By Jim Tortolano/Garden Grove Journal
Hay, who led the Argonaut football team to the Garden Grove League championship and then on to CIF Southern Section’s Southern Division Finals in 2009, passed away in his sleep last week.
He was 41 and was working as a physical education teacher at Doig Intermediate School in Garden Grove this year.
The news of his death rippled through the local community like a shock wave. Students and staff at Grove and Doig were notified; Facebook pages and news sites filled up with expressions of loss, grief and appreciation.
“It was an honore to have met you,” posted one person on the www.ggjournal.com website. “You’ll always be an inspiration to the rest of us. “ Another wrote “We will always have us in our hearts and we will never forget you.”
Hay took over an Argo program which had tied for the Garden Grove League title the year before. But although favored to win a second straight crown, the Argonauts were struck by tragedy when – in the late minutes of a 9-0 win over Westminster – one of their players collapsed and died. The team dedicated the season to Kevin Telles and finished the regular season undefeated at 10-0.
With Sean Young at quarterback and Zack Huff keying the defense, the Argonauts advanced to the Southern Division championship game against La Mirada. Despite being hampered by injuries to Huff and other key players, the Argonauts led the Matadores in the early going, but then lost Young to an injury.
Despite ending up with a 49-27 defeat, the Hay-led Argos made history. It was the first time since 1945 that Garden Grove had made it to a CIF football final. Hay was selected for many honors, including a Coach of the Year accolade.
Of the 13-1 season that came up just short of a title, Hay said “I’m extremely proud of these guys,.Every one of them.”
To the surprise of many, Hay stepped down in April of 2010 for what is believed to be health reasons.
Offensive coordinator Willy Puga took over and guided the Argonauts to another 13-1 season, this one ending with a 31-30 victory over Beckman in the CIF title game.
Hay remained as an instructor at Grove, then transferred to Doig in 2011. Before becoming the Argonaut coach, he had been an instructor at Hare Continuation High School.
A “Celebration of Life” memorial will be held for Hay next weekend.
According to Alan Trudell, spokesman for the Garden Grove Unified School District, the family has scheduled the event for Sunday, Feb. 12 from 4-7 p.m. at the American Legion Post at the Balboa Peninsula at 15th Street.
There will be a short service at 4:30 p.m. following by comments from family and friends about how Hay influenced their lives.