Fruita Monument tabs Hayden as boys hoops coach
Fruita Monument High School didn’t waste time finding its new boys basketball coach.
The Wildcats didn’t look far and stayed within District 51 to make its choice.
Ryan Hayden will be the Wildcats’ new coach, the school announced on Monday. Hayden moves to Fruita Monument from Central, where he coached for the past six seasons.
Hayden said it was an extremely difficult decision to move away from Central.
“I have nothing but the utmost respect for Central High School and the kids there,” Hayden said. “The kids were tremendously great to work with and always had a great work ethic.
“It was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” he added.
He said coming to a school with a rich basketball tradition is a challenge he wanted to take on.
“Working where there’s a lot of basketball tradition and history like Fruita has is exciting, (and) I’m excited to be part of that,” he said.
Hayden said one of the factors behind the decision to change schools was for personal reasons since he lives and works in Fruita and he has a son in the Fruita school system.
Hayden, 34, turned Central into a playoff and Southwestern League title contender after starting with a winless 0-24 record in his first season.
Under Hayden, the Warriors went 56-85 and 21-37 in SWL play; however, over the past two seasons, he led the Warriors to the Class 5A playoffs and a 33-15 overall record and a 12-6 mark in SWL play.
Fruita Monument Athletic Director Denny Squibb said once Hayden applied and interviewed for the job, they knew he was the right fit.
“When we interviewed him, the whole committee was very impressed with what he had to say and how he handled himself,” Squibb said. “You hate to do that to any sister school but we felt after talking to Ryan, we knew he was the right person to lead this team.”
Hayden, a Palisade High School graduate, said he will bring the same coaching philosophy he developed in his 16 years as an assistant and head coach. The success he had at Central helped validate some of his coaching philosophies.
“It is very satisfying to realize that we did some great things (at Central),” he said. “When you focus on doing things right everyday, good things happen.
“I believe in doing things the right way. Getting kids established in the team culture, and when you get them to play for each other and play hard, everything else takes care of itself.”
Squibb said ultimately, for him, the decision was based in his personal connection with Hayden.
“I was the athletic director at Palisade when he was a player and I knew the quality of the young man then,” he said.
Eventually, Hayden went on to be an assistant coach with the Bulldogs and was there for 10 years. When the Central job came open, Squibb didn’t hesitate to voice his opinion.
“I told them, the first guy I’d go after is Ryan Hayden,” he said.
Watching Hayden’s work with Central and how he turned the team around impressed Squibb.
“Through the years, sitting in locker rooms after (losing) games, I know that was hard for Ryan,” Squibb said. “I know how hard he worked and how passionate he is and how much he cared. All good coaches question themselves. I just developed an admiration for him as an individual.”
Hayden is also the director and coach with the Western Slope Colorado Premier Boys Basketball program, which started its first season last month. He currently coaches the under-17 team.
Hayden said summer basketball is always a big part of team bonding and development.
“I think this is going to be a very crucial summer at Fruita to get the culture instilled there,” he said.
The coaching position at Fruita came open late last month when the school decided to not renew the contract of Billy Dreher, a Fruita Monument graduate. Dreher coached the Wildcats for the past five years.
With Hayden moving to Fruita Monument from Central, the school district still has two openings for head boys basketball coaches. Palisade’s position came open when Jeremiah Baskin resigned in March after three seasons.