WEST VALLEY CITY — The softball field where Tess Matagi learned to play a game she loves, for a man she admires, isn’t just a patch of dirt surrounded by freshly mowed grass.
“The field is only a metaphor for coach (Wes) Haymond’s true passion, dedication, and commitment,” Matagi said in a letter supporting Granite School District’s decision to name Hunter High’s new softball field after the long-time coach. “It’s the girls he coaches. It’s the families he makes proud. It’s the umpires he’s fair to. It’s the opposing teams he inspires.”
On Tuesday, before the team’s first region game this season, a ceremony dedicated the new Hunter High softball field as the Wes Haymond Field.
"It was a total surprise," said Haymond, who's in his 15th year coaching the Hunter Wolverines softball team.
It was an honor and recognition Haymond’s players, including former Hunter High standout Matagi, felt was long overdue. Parents, too.
“He loves the game of softball, but he loves the girls most of all,” added Pauline Matagi, Tess's mother. “He watched out for them and their safety by spending all his free time on the field prepping it and making sure it was leveled.”
Players didn’t just learn to field grounders, judge fly balls or lay down a bunt from Haymond, whose softball resume is long and accomplished. Tess Matagi said he also enlisted the help of his players in caring for and grooming the field where they would practice and compete.
“Most of the players refer to it as his baby, and he even sets time aside for us girls to help out with the weeding,” Tess Matagi said. “He is there from noon to sundown maintaining the field the best he can, making it look sharp especially for game days. Even in the offseason, he’s there cleaning it, mowing it, watering, sweeping, you name it, just to make sure it’s ready for us girls.”
"To me, that field is heaven right here on earth," Haymond says. "When I got to Hunter, there was no girls' fast-pitch softball field."
Once administrators started working with the district to contract one, Haymond was in on every meeting to make sure the field fit the needs of his softball players. From extra room in the dugouts to grass between the dugouts, he had a hand in every detail.
"Since then, I pretty much keep care of that thing, and I've put a lot of time and effort into it," he said.
Tess Matagi said she wouldn't have earned a scholarship to Southern Utah University without Haymond's ability to help her develop herself in the classroom and on the softball field. His mentorship helped his players see the life lessons offered in the sport they all shared.
Haymond is a member of the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame because of his more than 40 years of commitment to the sport in Utah. A graduate of East High, he attended Mesa College in Grand Junction, Colorado. He didn’t just play and coach the game, he helped promote it by taking dozens of leadership positions, including serving as a committee member of the Utah Softball Hall of Fame.
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