If there’s one thing a college resume like Hayford’s displays, it’s a work ethic that can only be described as rigorous. Just as his name kept appearing on the Nazareth dean’s list, Hayford made a name for himself by standing out through his athletic achievements.
For a second year in a row, Hayford was given the honor of representing his school on the 2014 Empire 8 Sportsman of the Year team, which recognizes a player from each school in the Empire 8 division for “playing with honor and integrity.” It was a fitting end to a career that showed the progression of a player willing to play anywhere, anytime, becoming the starting small forward of a team that came a game short of a championship. “It means a lot to me,” said Hayford, “because I pride myself on my composure, win or lose, and it’s really great to be recognized for that.”
Hayford played basketball all four years at “Naz,” joining the team believing he would continue the role he filled as a Wildcat at point guard. But the team’s older, more experienced players would fill that role, and Hayford found himself playing in the four spot, feeling undersized for his position. “When you translate your abilities to the college level, everyone is bigger, stronger, and faster,” said Hayford. “You do everything you can to get experience under your belt, but it was tough. I had no post moves, and it became defensive prowess which enabled me to get out there.”
As a guard at Twin Valley, Hayford had thrived, setting a since-topped school record for assists, and was named to the Vermont Senior Twin State Team and Vermont Basketball Coaches Association Dream Dozen.
But Hayford wouldn’t let his repositioning discourage him. He instead set out to conquer it, and by putting in his dues, reps, and some points along the way, he found himself the team’s starting small forward in his junior year. Hayford also set out to complete his internship, and continued to work on an accounting and economics major.
“Time management was the most challenging part,” said Hayford. “You’re sacrificing a lot of time and you’re lucky to have a few hours to yourself when you include practice. But the reward, there’s nothing like it.”
Hayford attributes his work ethic to both his parents and his past coaches, a group that combined two times a year in high school, running track and playing soccer on his father Buddy Hayford’s teams.
“The most prominent thing I learned at Twin Valley was work ethic and leadership skills,” said Hayford. “I was fortunate to have great coaches growing up, who expected a lot from me. It paid off when I got here.”
Hayford’s leadership helped the Golden Flyers reach a championship berth against Hartwick College in March, a game in which his team rallied from a 15–point deficit in the fourth quarter, but eventually lost by five. But Hayford prefers to reflect on the success of the basketball program he loved being a part of. “I’m sad it ended that way, but we had an amazing four years of basketball. I couldn’t ask for a better coach, and my teammates and I were a tight-knit group that you don’t find everywhere.”
In his senior year, Hayford played in all 27 games for the Golden Flyers, averaging 37 minutes, 9.3 points, and four rebounds per game.
With the finish line and cap and gown in sight, Hayford is focused on a career in economics, and has already fielded multiple job interviews for after graduation.