In the past decade, new fields, new facilities and new varsity programs have been the focus for the Wilton High athletic department.
Next fall, however, there will be a new person in charge.
Christy Hayes, who came to Wilton in 2002 after a long teaching and coaching career at St. Joseph, has announced he is retiring as the school’s athletic director, effective at the end of the 2012-13 school year.
“I just felt it was time,” said Hayes. “I was at St. Joseph for 30 years, and when I came here my goal was to do 10 years. I did a little more than that.”
Hayes, who replaced interim athletic director Ed McDowell in November 2002, is the second longest AD in school history after Nick Zeoli. Zeoli retired in 1994 following 25 years as athletic director.
“Nick was here so long that everyone else’s stay seems short in comparison,” said Hayes, who will turn 66 this month.
A football and baseball player at Hillhouse High School in New Haven — he also played basketball as a freshman and sophomore — Hayes went on to play football at Southern Connecticut State University. He was an assistant football coach at St. Joseph for one year and then landed a full-time teaching job at the school.
Hayes eventually became the head football coach and guided the Cadets to five state championships in his 15 seasons. He later became head coach of the baseball team and held that position for eight years.
After getting certification as an administrator, Hayes was named athletic director at St. Joseph in 2000. Two years later, he applied for the same job at Wilton High.
“Vinny Iovino (then the athletic director at New Canaan High School) told me about the Wilton opening,” said Hayes. “But when I inquired about it, Ed McDowell said it was too late, that they were finished taking applications. I told Vinny and he said, ‘hold on, I’ll be back in touch with you.’ A little while later he called me back and said I had an interview the next day.”
During Hayes’s tenure at Wilton High, turf fields were installed and existing facilities and fields upgraded, and the girls hockey program became a varsity team.
But Hayes said those were not what he would recall most.
“I’ll remember the people. The coaches and the kids,” he said. “That’s going to be what stays with me and also the hardest part to step away from.”