When Neal Hayes and Shelby Hayes Parrish are inducted into the Winter Park High School Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday night, they will slow down and soak in how special the ceremony will be.
The longtime runners will be joined by five other Hall of Famers in the Class of 2014, yet they will be unique. They are the first father and daughter to be enshrined by the Winter Park hall in the same year.
"Because we've gone through so much of the running experience together, to be able to go through this [being inducted], it's just a really neat experience," Shelby said.
Neal set a school record for the half-mile the first time he ran it in the late 1970s and was the only sophomore on the Wildcats' 4 x 400-meter relay team, one of the fastest in the state. Shelby won five state championships in cross country and track at Winter Park and broke the school record for 800 meters.
"She was so fired up."
Their graduations separated by 31 years, Neal (Class of 1979) and Shelby (2010) were selected for their accomplishments, but for them, their love of running extends far beyond medals and championships.
"I knew she was really good when [on] some of her runs, I had to get on my bike to just keep up with her," said Neal, 51. "I could no longer just go out and run with her, because she was starting to rise to a super high level."
Winter Park girls cross country and track coach Kristin McWilliams coached Shelby during her senior season and traveled with her and her family for some national races, including the adidas Dream Mile in New York City.
"[Neal] was warming up with her, and when he got back, he told me she was so excited and she was ready,'' McWilliams said. "He knew that she would run well because he couldn't keep up with her that day.
Then there are the runs out of the spotlight, such as the one Neal and Shelby shared on the morning of her wedding and the times they would lace up their running shoes and hit the pavement together when Shelby visited this past summer.
Neal lives in Winter Park with his wife, Sandra, and works for the Central Florida Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Their other child, Kyle, 21, attends UF. Shelby, 22, is pursuing a master's degree in health education at UF after running for the Gators.
"It was probably one of the most special things,'' Neal said of their wedding-day run. "Just being able to talk about the excitement of the wedding and things that were going on, I have a feeling that will always be a bond for us.''
Johnny Miller, chairman of the Winter Park Sports Hall of Fame, said a husband and wife have been inducted previously in the same year and a father and son are enshrined. But like so often when they ran competitively, the Hayeses have achieved another first.
"It's funny how both of them happen to be track stars, and both of them happen to be successful during their time at Winter Park High School,'' Miller said.
So with all due respect (and congratulations) to Brian Blankenship, Derek Collier, Cathy Jolly Hennes, Quentin Rainey and Sid Cash, the other members of this hall class, the ceremony at the Winter Park Community Center at 8 Saturday night will have a familial feel.
One family, in particular.
"I couldn't have scripted it any better,'' Neal said. "It just makes it that much more special."
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Posted on Wed, December 10, 2014
by Derek Carmical filed under