Joe Hay, who was Garden Grove’s varsity football head coach for one remarkable season, died Friday morning.
His wife, Nicole Hay, said she found her husband not breathing Friday morning. She said Joe, 41, wore a mask to deal with sleep apnea difficulties but had not worn the mask when he went to bed Thursday night.
Joe had no other ongoing health issues, she said.
“He just never woke up,” Nicole said Saturday.
Hay coached Garden Grove to the CIF-Southern Section Southern Division championship game in 2009. The Argonauts endured the loss of teammate and senior linebacker Kevin Telles, who passed away shortly after collapsing during the final minutes of the team’s season opener.
Garden Grove went 13-1 that season, with its only loss to La Mirada in the Southern Division championship game.
Hay resigned after the ’09 season to undergo shoulder replacement surgery and devote time to rehabilitate the injury. Nicole said Joe had recently accepted an assistant coaching position at Santa Ana College for the 2012 season, which would have marked his return to coaching.
“Joe was really looking forward to getting back into coaching,” Nicole said.
Joe Hay remained at Garden Grove as a physical education and health teacher. Assistant coach Willy Puga was promoted to replace Hay before the 2010 season, during which the Argonauts returned to the CIF-SS Southern Division championship game to defeat Beckman.
Fountain Valley coach John Shipp and Hay were classmates in junior high school, and football teammates at Westminster High in the late 1980s.
“To hear that Joe passed away, this is tough,” Shipp said. “Joe was such a well-liked person. It’s a shock.”
Hay was the Register’s Orange County coach of the year for the 2009 football season. The Garden Grove League players thought about not continuing the season, then dedicated their efforts to Telles. Hay explained the team’s decision to school administration.
“I said, ‘I don’t think we should stop at all … so these kids understand that regardless of whether somebody is born and somebody dies, this world does not stop,’ ” Hay said.
The Hays have no children. Joe Hay’s parents, John and Carol Hay, reside in Garden Grove.
Services are pending.
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