Leaving the program he helped build into a perennial contender was tough. His reasoning, however, made the decision an easy one.
Two weeks ago long-time coach Patrick Hayes informed Ocean Springs of his intention to step down as girls soccer coach. In his seven years leading the Lady Greyhounds, they won six district titles, two South State titles and one Class 6A championship in 2013. Personally, Hayes was named the Sun Herald Coach of the Year three times, including landing the honor as the boys coach of the year while at Gulfport. During his time as a high school coach, Hayes has also had four standouts named Sun Herald Player of the Year.
"I'm very proud of what has been accomplished while being here," Hayes said. "I've coached some really great players and outstanding young ladies. I gave my heart and soul to the program. I feel like I'm leaving it in great hands.
"I'm leaving on great terms with the administration, parents and players."
Having accomplished so much, Hayes said the timing just seemed right.
"It was definitely a difficult decision. It took a lot of time and thought. Having my family in the back of my mind made it easier," he said. "I have three children ages 10, 9, 4 and they're all starting to get pretty involved in activities and I've wanted to spend more time with my kids and coach their teams.
"It's time for me to coach my family."
Reflecting on his time with the Lady Greyhounds, Hayes said it took "creating a championship mindset" to get the program to the top.
"Ocean Springs on the girls side was not a perennial powerhouse but I feel like in the last seven years with the level of talent we have had a good run," he said. "I think overall, changing the culture and learning to work hard and play for your school and community, and to understand how important it is to leave a legacy for your school.
"I think that's what I really tired to push with our girls."
Hayes, who will remain as a teacher at OSHS, actually recruited his successor, Ryan Joiner, when he coached at Pearl River Community College. The two have been in touch and Hayes believes the former St. Stanislaus coach will continue to carry on Ocean Springs' tradition of success on the pitch.