Home Local Sports Highline Pirates Football Ben Hayden: Defensive Line Coach for the Highline Pirates

Ben Hayden: Defensive Line Coach for the Highline Pirates


Coach Hayden is in his second year with the Pirates. We had a chance to sit down and learn more about this young man serving the students on the team with integrity and excellence.

“I really missed sports! I wanted to be part of a team. So I went online and looked for coaching jobs. I had worked in the Highline District at Hazel Valley doing before-and-after school programs. So I applied; then Coach Cooper and I went to lunch. Cooper told me about the guys on the team. He called me in for another interview with Lori, the Athletic Director, and gave me the job,” said Hayden.

Hayden began as an all-purpose coach, helping wherever needed, holding bags, and getting everything ready on game day. But when last year’s defensive line coach could not return for this season, Hayden received the nod from Head Coach Deontae Cooper and took responsibility over the defensive line.

Hayden comes to us from Minnesota, often sporting a Viking hat. Hayden played four years of high school football on the defense and offense line. The defense was his “first love,” but the team needed him on offense, so he switched to serve the greater need better. This attitude is reflective of all the coaches Cooper brings on. This highly contagious, other-centered quality is evident in the staff and flows through the whole team. It leads to a desire to be excellent for one another, setting up a spirit of fun camaraderie. In an era of self-centered showboats dominating sports, it is refreshing to see men humbly serve and lead. This exceptional mindset is one of the top reasons the Pirates won the 2A KingCo championship.

Hayden likes watching the kids grow and build camaraderie. “I have seen their pride in the school grow. Even the kids who are only around the team and don’t play are excited about the school and packing out the stands. They are excited about the game day. It helps the community; we are helping to build this community through the team,” said Hayden.

For Hayden, being on the coaching staff has given him a chance to grow in patience. “It is not so much about doing homework, etc.; it’s more about seeing their talent and drawing it out, which takes time. I want them to use their talent as a competitive team member rather than only in a personal, selfish way. It’s made me work at being a more effective communicator. Each week I have 4 days to teach a new technique to all my defensive linemen, because all of them might play in the game; they all have to know it,” said Hayden.

“It has been great to see the team grow. As we have added players, we can put the right guys in the right places. Last year we had to play guys more suited to linebacker on the defensive line. But they were really too small and would have been more effective in other slots. However, they played where the team needed them; this year, we have enough players to put the right guys in the right slots,” said a smiling Hayden.

The Pirates have dominated on defense this year. They have a swarming attack based on speed that overwhelms even larger players. Allowing only 27 points on the season with 2A and 3A teams is a measure of the change. “More guys turning out has had a huge impact on our improvement. It has changed how we can develop our players. Last year we did not have enough players to drill against each other, so we had a lot of theory and time on dummy bags. But this year, we have gotten to work on technique and strategy against a full scout offense. This has been tremendous for this team’s development,” said Hayden.

When asked who has really stood out this year, Hayden named all the defensive line. “They have all matured so much. Quentin Camp has truly grown. Last year he was injured, but he came, watched, and learned. He is incredibly smart and retained all of it. He came right into this year fully ready. Jordan Heng is only a sophomore but pound for pound, he is really a tough guy out there, working so hard every day at every practice. Joseph Tiumalu, a transfer from Evergreen, gave us more size on the line. He has taken the pressure of Gabriel Luna-Tautua, someone hard to move around, freeing up some guys not to play both ways on the line, keeping them fresh to block for QB Ronan Rasmussen and the running game. Even last year, for a couple of the guys, it was their first time playing; they’ve learned fast and are contributing. Now we have a JV team that is getting more depth and experience on the gameday field,” said Hayden.

Besides coaching, Ben works as a purchasing agent at Integrity Networks in Renton. He enjoys rock climbing and skiing when he has spare time.

The Pirates are winners not only because of the players’ depth; their success is tied just as much or more to the depth of quality coaching. Hayden definitely adds to that pool of excellence.

As always, we end the Pirate chant, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Now go home and tell someone you love them.”

Let’s go Pirates!

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