A Jacket, a Trophy, and a Son’s Memories

APA junior Jeff Bland (l.) presents Patriot alum Brent Hayes with “the jacket”

Staff Reports

When he obtained a vintage red nylon jacket with “Bill Hayes State Farm” emblazoned on the back, APA junior Jeff Bland figured he was just getting a colorful second-hand coat that he could wear to the Parrott Academy athletic events.

All that changed when APA associate headmaster Mr. Hugh Pollock saw the jacket.

“That’s Brent Hayes’s dad’s jacket!” exclaimed Mr. Pollock, thinking of the student and APA golfer Brent Hayes (Class of 2002), who had lost his father, Bill Hayes, in a car accident when Brent was just 18-months old.

Sixteen years later, it was Brent who helped Mr. Pollock’s golf team earn the school’s first golf title in 2002.

So Mr. Pollock jumped into action, first checking with Jeff (if he’d be willing to give up his “new” jacket), and then calling Brent and asking if he would be interested in having the jacket as a keepsake.

Of course, Brent said, “Yes!”

The 2002 APA golf team (from l. – Stephen Perry, Courtney Mitchell, Ryan Gallaher, Coach Hugh Pollock, Brent Hayes, Dan Nowicki, and Barden Berry) and THE trophy — the first Patriot state championship in school history | Staff photos

So last Wednesday Mr. Pollock made the arrangements for Jeff and Brent to meet –– and to exchange the jacket.

The jacket is one of the few memories that Brent has of his father, since he was a toddler when his dad passed away.

“(My dad) fished and I have some of his softball t-shirts and two of his shotguns,” said Brent. “He was an avid sportsman. The guys that knew him talked about when he was there (in his insurance business) on Hardee Road across from the mall.

“I know some of his friends who knew him well and speak highly of him.”

Brent knows his father’s background, about his dad and his car accident at age 39 and about how he graduated from high school in Wilson before graduating from Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College).

As for Mr. Pollock, he was glad to meet with Brent because a flood of memories came pouring back.

“He was truly the answer to a prayer that year,” said Mr. Pollock. “We really needed a fourth man and he brought a maturity about him that the other guys picked up on. He even dressed to the ‘T.’ He was very methodical about everything.”

The Patriots’ first state championship was a big deal for Coach Pollock and the players, as the team had tried for years to bring home the title.

Coach Pollock (l.) and Jeff Bland discuss old golf memories

“Things opened up for us when we finally went to a 2A tournament and didn’t have to compete for the state title with the 3A schools,” said Mr. Pollock, who coached four state title teams. “North Raleigh Christian was our big competition back then, and we finally broke through.”

“That senior year I consider it a blessing as to how everything worked out,” said Brent, who works for Conway & Co. Financial Services of Kinston. “To have those memories, I think is so special.”

Mr. Pollock recalled the sense of pride –– and exuberance –– of that first trophy.

“Every where we went we took the trophy,” said Mr. Pollock. “We went into the store we took the trophy. We went into the bathroom, we took the trophy.”

And Brent backed up the team’s utter joy.

“It was nice to see you so happy,” said Brent to Mr. Pollock in the school’s main lobby last week. “I’ve never seen a grown man so happy.”

And the memories will roll on, apparently, as Hayes’ niece Londyn Vick, the daughter of Mrs. Blake Ipock and Mr. Tim Vick, is in Mrs. Anne Bryant’s first grade class.

“Our class was so small but I appreciate the small class sizes today,” said Brent, who graduated from the Cameron School of Business at University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2007. “And that’s why I’m glad Londyn is here at Parrott so that she can have that same experience.”

And perhaps one day she can build the kind of lasting memories, like the beautiful ones brought together by a jacket, a trophy, and a memory.




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