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A new approach: NIU's Hayes turns to coaching after head injuries end playing career

Published: Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com)
Former Northern Illinois cornerback Marckie Hayes during practice on March 27 at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb.

DeKALB – Marckie Hayes didn’t want to give up football.

Back in fall camp, the Northern Illinois junior cornerback suffered the third concussion of his collegiate career. After discussing his future with his family, the coaches and training staff, they decided it would be best to walk away from the game.

However, Hayes didn’t want stay away. The 2010 Sycamore graduate has been working with the Huskies as a student coach. Hayes helps run the scout team defensive backs, is present at every practice and adds his insights in the meeting room.

“Coach Carey was very accommodating, you know, gave me a role to partake in for this season so that’s been really enjoyable just to be able to still be around the team,” Hayes said. “I still feel like I’m contributing in some way.”

Hayes, who is scheduled to graduate in December 2014 with a degree in industrial and systems engineering with an emphasis in health systems, will have the official title of student coach next semester and will be with the team next season as well.

“I’m don’t know exactly what that’s going to entail yet, but right now I’m doing everything I can to help out because I want to be apart of everything,” Hayes said.

On Sunday, Hayes, who will be on scholarship through next season, was given NIU’s Most Inspirational award at the Huskies’ annual banquet. The award is voted on by the coaching staff, who get their input from a number of people.

“You hear it from the players and you hear it from the staff and then you hear it from the coaches. We all kind of talk about it and vote,” NIU head coach Rod Carey said. “The kid got his career taken away in a scrimmage. Now, he’s been out here every day, helping, and doing the things he needs to be doing.

“Usually when something gets taken away like that kids have a hard time getting back out there. But he’s shown great leadership and it’s been inspirational.”

Sophomore corner Paris Logan said it was weird seeing his fellow DB coaching at first. For Logan, seeing his teammate’s career end was tough.

“I was really sad for him, because he is a hard worker,” Logan said. “I feel like he outworks everyone in the weight room, and on the field he’ll do anything for the team.”

Hayes said he’s considered a future in in coaching, whether it be as a graduate assistant at the collegiate level or a high school coach.

When it comes to being a student coach, Hayes said he’s asked fellow Sycamore grad Kevin Sabock for advice. Sabock, who was a linebacker at NIU in 2008 and 2009, also had his career end due to injury, and took the student coaching route Hayes is on. Sabock was on the staff for last year’s Orange Bowl team.

Hayes wants to stick around the game as long as possible.

“Once the more and more I get involved with the team, kind of getting to see that other side, how the coaches operate, I think that’ll help (his decision),” Hayes said. “It’ll just give me an idea of what coaching will entail.”

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