Just hours after the confetti fell in Minneapolis where the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl, a history teacher was memorializing their win in a place where traditionally there are not many Eagles fans.
“Sometimes I come early, the morning after the Super Bowl. This year was really easy because we had a delay so I came over at the normal time, before the kids got to school. And they come in and say ‘It’s already up, it’s already up’ so it was kind of fun,” said Mike Hays, Mannington Middle School teacher.
Mr. Hays, as he’s known around Mannington Middle School, started the tradition of painting Super Bowl champion helmets decades ago.
“Well I started teaching about, well it has been 41 years ago,” Hays said.
And although many things have changed in the last 41 years, middle school student’s excitement over professional football has not.
“And when I moved to Mannington in ’79/’80 the kids were so excited about the Super Bowl one year, I just thought well we ought to paint them on the wall,” said Hays.
He didn’t have much painting experience but he went for it. And students loved it.
Mr. Hays is also Coach Hays, and so he incorporates a lot of sports into his teaching and classroom decor.
“I think it’s a way to connect with students outside of the school, outside of the classroom environment and you get to know them that way,” Hays said.
And that use of sports will continue, maybe even past retirement.
“Keep doing it till I retire. And then I told the guy next door I said,’you’ll have to inherit.’ He said, ‘that’s fine, I’ll inherit it, but you’ll have to come back and paint it.’ So maybe I’ll come back and paint,” said Hays.
And in case you were wondering, Hays said he’s a Cowboys fan.