Daelin Hayes shines on and off the field

Published: Sep. 12, 2020 at 2:36 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Student-athletes have a lot on their plate in a normal year between school work and their respective sport.

Some choose to volunteer and some go above and beyond.

Notre Dame defensive lineman Daelin Hayes is one of them and in an offseason unlike any other...he took action,

“I was having fun," Hayes said. "I was having fun with the game. I was rediscovering my love for the game.”

That fun came to an abrupt halt just four weeks into the 2019 season.

Hayes suffered a torn labrum and was out for the year but not his career.

“I had more to give to this university and to this team," Hayes said.

He had more to give to the South Bend community too.

Hayes spent his time healing by volunteering in the South Bend schools.

A shocking sight for student since many have trouble believing they too can dream

“There’s little kids in our community, hundreds of them, hundreds of thousands of them that would benefit from our leadership, our mentorship, our brotherhood, our empathy, our compassion, our representation," Hayes said.

And Hayes showed them there’s always reason to believe.

“God gave me another opportunity, another year to come back to be involved in the community, to stand up for what was right with our team," Hayes said. "Our team stood for social justice and we continue to stand for that.”

This summer Hayes rose as a leader in Notre Dame’s social justice movement, using his platform to give voice to the sobering reality he and many of his teammates face.

“The fear that our parents feel when they send us out into the world and don’t know if we’re going to come back the same way they left us, to be murdered in broad daylight," Hayes said. "These are the realities that our players, our students face far beyond when we take off a gold helmet, far beyond when we take off a Notre Dame monogram, we’re still a Black man.”

Hayes was front and center at the Irish Juneteenth rally and march.

A life-changing day for many.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the young men on our football team when they use that platform to speak, in such an eloquent manner, in such a matter that it moved me even more to be able to learn more and educate myself," Head Coach Brian Kelly said.

“I promise you, myself, this team, this university, we stand with you,” Hayes said. "No longer will your voice be oppressed. We will use this platform. We will always stand up for what’s right.”

Now a campus leader, Hayes was named a captain.

“It means everything," Hayes said. "I don’t know if there’s ever been anything in my life that I’ve been more proud of.”

“He’s done it on both on the field and off field so much," Kelly said. “That’s why he’s garnered so much respect from his peers and that’s why he’s a captain.”

The newly minted captain is thankful he was given another chance.

He’s now stronger than ever.

“I would’ve been broken," Hayes said. "I would’ve been discouraged. Like it would’ve been too much like for me to handle. But I relied in my brothers. I relied on my family. I relied on my coaches. I relied on my faith and I stand before you today.”

Daelin Hayes says he’s actually grateful for last season’s injury saying that God turned it around into a magnificent victory.

The Irish continue to speak out regarding social justice. Head coach Brian Kelly said the team has a few events planned soon.

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