The Mattituck High School boys soccer coaching position will stay in the Tuckers family.
Will Hayes, an assistant coach during the run to the New York State Class B title last year and a Mattituck High School graduate, has been named head coach. The Mattituck school board approved his hiring at its Thursday night meeting.
He succeeds Mat Litchhult, who stepped down for personal reasons after guiding he Tuckers to its third state championship last November.
Hayes, 34, will become only the seventh coach in the 78-year history of the storied program, joining Robert Muir (1936-1975), Frank Grabowski (1976-80), Craig Osmer (1981-82), Mike Huey (1984-1992), Joe Vasile-Cozzo (1993-2001) and Litchhult (2002-2014).
Hayes said that he was quite familiar with three of his predecessors. He played for Vasile-Cozzo, coached with Litchhult and knows Huey, the former Mattituck athletic director and current Section XI boys soccer chairman.
“It is really a tremendous honor to be counted among those guys,” he said. “I hope I do it a service. Ever since Mat told me he was stepping down, the dream that I’ve had [was] to take the job. I’m floored that they actually would give it to me. Now I’m just kind of terrified that I’m ready for the limelight.”
You did not have to remind Hayes that he has a winning tradition to uphold.
“Mattituck’s success goes hand-in-hand with its ability to keep a coach for more than five years,” he said. “You don’t recruit anyone in the high school game. You’ve got to build a pipeline of talent. You have to manage them and you have to work then through the system, whatever system you try to do, you try to play.”
Hayes said that he learned much about directing a team from his high school coach, Vasile-Cozzo.
“He had his way how things were going to be done,” he said. “Your shoes were going to be shined, your socks were going to be pulled up, your shin guards were going to be on at practice and that’s how you did it. If you didn’t do that, you were the odd duckling. Mat only had Joe for two years, but it’s something that I think came through in the way we did things in the past couple of years. We’ve been very successful with that and I hope to carry it on. Big shoes.”
The Hayes family certainly has played vital roles for the boys and girls teams through the years as seven siblings have worn Tuckers’ blue and gold uniforms. Most recently, Will Hayes’ twin brothers, Paul and James, were instrumental in helping Mattituck to the state crown. Catherine, a sophomore, is a key member of the girls team. Other soccer-playing siblings include sisters Gina and Katie and brother Matt.
His father, Bill Hayes, is president of the Mattituck Soccer Club and has coached several youth teams over the years.