A new memorial, which graces the corner of Oneida and 17th streets above Knox Stadium at Juniata College, was dedicated on Saturday, Sept. 29 to honor the late Steve Hayes, a dedicated local football coach who passed away Dec. 29, 2016.
Placed at the intersection of campus and community, the memorial is topped with a carving of an eagle poised for flight as a fitting tribute to a man who worked hard to help his players—both college and high school—soar on and off the field.
“He was one of our coaches and one of the members of our family here,” said Juniata College President James Troha. “As you think about it, being at an intersection here, it is reflective of what he meant in our community.”
Mr. Hayes served as an assistant football coach at Juniata College for over 25 years and at Bucknell University as well as Mifflin County High School, Lewistown, State College Area High School, the former Kishacoquillas High School, Reedsville, and at the former Indian Valley High School, Lewistown.
The memorial came about through the hard work and dedication of Mr. Hayes’ friend Vince Inzerillo of Lewistown.
“Coach Hayes and I had been buddies for years. We coached together in high school and here at Juniata,” Inzerillo said. “His untimely passing was not fair. He spent 25 years here at Juniata College coaching. He mentored many, many Juniata College men. His players loved him and he loved them.”
Inzerillo said his desire was to make a tribute to his dear friend at a place he had loved so much.
“He lived for football and loved it,” he said. “He made his players better people as well as better players. That’s the goal. You want to win football games, you want to play well, but you are teaching them about life and making them better people. He certainly did that. That was his coaching philosophy.”
A new memorial located above Knox Stadium was dedicated Saturday morning to honor the late Steve Hayes, a dedicated local football coach. Taking part in the ceremony were, from the left, Joel Diamond, Greg Curley, Juniata College President James Troha, Debra Hayes, Vince Inzerillo, Jeff Hayes holding daughter, Emma, and Chrissy Hayes.Photo by April Feagley
That legacy carries on in the lives of his players.
“They matured and they became great men,” said Inzerillo. “They are pillars of their communities. Winning is important, but making them better people is more important.”
Inzerillo worked with local artisan Tim Klock to design a chainsaw carving of the eagle, which sits atop a pillar surrounded by a small garden and seating area overlooking the stadium.
“I think it’s a good tribute for a man who deserved it,” he said.
Mr. Hayes’ wife, Debra; son, Jeff; daughter-in-law, Chrissy; and granddaughter, Emma, took part in the dedication ceremony and were presented with a special Eagles helmet with an “SH’ insignia on the back.
“Even as it was being constructed, my wife and I and our daughter would stop down to see the progress. He was a special guy. It turned out great. It’s amazing,” said Jeff Hayes. “He’d be proud, but he was never a person who wanted to seek attention.”
The spot is one Troha anticipates will be photographed and visited often by generations of students to come.
“I think it’s spectacular. This may become like the Nittany Lion as a picture spot,” he said. “You can see it from a lot of different angles from our campus. It’s a great testament to Steve. I appreciate Vince’s vision and generosity in making this happen.”
—by April Feagley, staff writer, The Huntingdon Daily News—