Palmetto Bay Broncos quarterback Justin Hayes recently received the highest honor possible from Pop Warner Little Scholars when he was named First Team All-American for the 2013-14 season.
The designation, which ranks him among the top one percent of all Pop Warner participants nationwide, came on the heels of him being among only four other players from Palmetto Bay to be named Southeast Region All-Region Scholar-Athletes.
“For me, football is not just a game; it’s my passion,” he said. “I like playing with the Broncos mainly because of Coach [William] Cannon and the other coaches, who teach you the game regardless of whether you are the best player or the worst.
“At the same time, you have to show them your report card. They know that without the good grades it would be hard for you to succeed even if you are a good player. I also found a place that I can make friends and they have the same interests.”
To qualify for this honor, Justin was required to keep his grades up in school and participate in community service. While earning straight A’s at Air Base Elementary and serving as a coaching assistant for his flag football team, Justin is part of the Green Team, which landscapes the school twice a year. He also is enrolled in the Big Buddy program, mentoring pre-kindergarten students on the importance of education and sports. A volunteer for Baynanza, a Miami- Dade environmental initiative, he participates in trash cleanups along the shoreline and the bay. Despite this busy schedule, he maintains an almost Zen-like mentality about it all.
“It’s simple. I do my homework and I get to play and train,” he said. “On my off-season, I train an hour and a half a day, three times a week, but I can’t train if I don’t have all of my work done. Football helps me focus and organize my time. I would like to play in college if I get the chance, but I also want to go to law school, so I have to keep my grades up.”
To help him maintain his focus, Justin’s mother, Andrea, keeps a schedule to ensure everyone in the family keeps up with all of their activities while still having time to spend together. There are household rules regarding phone and computer use, and everyone in the family adheres to a notexting or video game policy while in the car together.
“Parents spend the most time together with their kids while they are in the car, so I try to make it productive,” she said. “Justin understands that if he wants something, he has to work for it. He is very disciplined with his time and that helps a lot. He doesn’t give up. I’m very proud of him and I’m happy that he was able to get rewarded doing something he enjoys. The Palmetto Bay Broncos program is incredible, from the directors, coaches, parents and kids. Over the years, we have become a big family.”
For information, visit www.palmettobaybroncos.org.