Former Oklahoma Christian University Men’s Basketball Head Coach Dan Hays will step off the court and onto the stage to receive the Guardians of the Game Award for Service presented by the National Association of Basketball Coaches on Sunday, April 2.
Every year, the nation’s largest association of college and high school basketball coaches nominate individuals for the Guardians of the Game awards, which honors four core values: advocacy, education, leadership and service.
Hays will be among four coaches honored during the AT&T Guardians of the Game award show in Phoenix, AZ on the night before the NCAA national championship game.
“The service award is given to the coach who selflessly gives to better the community and the game of basketball,” John Smith, a New York video producer, said.
According to Oklahoma Christian men’s basketball coach Cory Cole, selflessly gives are two words that exemplify the character of Coach Dan Hays, who coached at Oklahoma Christian for 33 years.
“He is an original authentic person,” Cole said. “He always has time to spend with people and make them feel important.”
Cole replaced Hays as the men’s basketball head coach of Oklahoma Christian. Cole played under Hays from 1990-1994 and said the most important lesson Hays ever taught him was the importance of hard work, which inspired his coaching style today.
“I share with my players, ‘Hard work is vital to success in anything, no short cuts,’” Cole said.
The lesson of hard work proves the game of basketball extends beyond the competition on the court, and according to Cole, Hays purposed himself to take the game of basketball into the community to inspire young people.
In an effort to utilize the lessons of basketball to strengthen and inspire positive life choices, Hays and his fellow staff members travel to the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center in Tecumseh, Okla. and conduct several basketball clinics. His main community efforts have been directed toward the basketball camps he started in the 1980s, Cage Camps, which attract approximately 3,000 kids every summer.
Hays said a key proponent of coaching is creating a network of individuals who serve to help and assist each other in all areas of life.
“I have no idea where this thing came from,” Hays said. “I was not even going to go to the award show this year.”
According to Hays, his love of the game of basketball motivated him to share that love with the community around him. Hays said his parents originally prompted his love and desire to pursue greatness. They currently stand as the only married couple in the University of New Mexico Athletic Hall of Fame. His mom, Marie Hays, became the first woman to be inducted into the New Mexico Activities Association Hall of Fame in 1981.
Following in her footsteps, Dan Hays continues to coach the game he loves while inspiring young individuals to pursue their dreams with a ton of hard work, dedication and passion.
“I never think of myself as above anyone else,” Dan Hays said. “Hopefully, through my example, they learn how to treat people with respect in the same way.”
The award show will be live streamed on Twitter on April 2 beginning at 6:30 p.m.