One sign of good character is perseverance and the ability to overcome adversity and Warner senior Hayden McElyea is a sterling example of that. It started as he prepared for his sophomore year as an Eagle.
“During a football scrimmage that year I rolled out for a pass and took a hit and broke my hip in two places. The first surgery kept me out for a year, but it ended up not working and so last summer I had to have a total hip replacement. I missed out on football for three seasons but did get to come back for basketball this past winter and now baseball.”
His baseball coach, Kory Bible, was glad to see him return and help lead the team to the regionals this season.
“Hayden was an eighth grader when I first came to Warner and we were real excited to get him to the high school where he started as a freshman,” said Bible. “After the injury I wasn’t sure we would ever get him back, but he was able to play summer ball last year and made his way back. This year we moved him to third base, and he was really solid for us especially coming down the stretch to the playoffs. He’s been one of the strongest leaders we’ve had in the program since I’ve been here. He’s got a little fire in him and he’s a gamer. He does real well in talking up the younger kids too.”
For Hayden the recovery time seemed like an eternity, and it played with his mental well-being.
“It was certainly frustrating. You always ask yourself ‘why me?’ But it’s also been a good testimony and an encouragement to others and helped me become a more effective leader. My family was really my backbone during this whole time. They kept encouraging me and helped me push myself to get better.”
Perhaps one of the keys to helping Hayden persevere through the injury was his faith background. His father is a pastor and Hayden has always been active in church youth activities and admired Tim Tebow for his faith as he was growing up. He says his leadership was influenced by a former teammate.
“My freshman year I looked up to Ryan Daniels who was a senior running back for us. We struggled that year, but he always managed to keep a positive attitude.”
Hayden plans to attend nearby Connors State for the next two years and then possibly Northeastern State and he’ll leave behind a true testimony of perseverance and character for those that follow at Warner High School.