Hayden Hairston, Milton High School’s starting kicker during the school’s first football championship appearance on Dec. 12 committed to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to continue his athletic and academic career this fall.
Like many other kids, Hairston grew up playing soccer and football. He later became Milton High School’s field goal kicker and stressed that football has been an important part of his life.
“You get to practice everyday and playing games with all of your best friends and you get to grow together as a team,” Hairston said of Milton’s football team. “Our team culture was something special. Being able to go out with those guys everyday and play the game I love, it was really just a dream.”
Hairston will be majoring in business, with thoughts of minoring in economics. Hairston says he has always enjoyed business and is even considering starting his own auto detailing business this summer. Hairston says he has also always taken advantage of little opportunities to make money, even if it was selling random knick-knacks in middle school.
However, in seventh grade, Hairston was injured and suffered four hip avulsion fractures and one torn quad. His doctor discovered that his muscular development outpaced the skeletal development, playing a role in the injury. Hairston’s injury needed six months each recovery time, so the family choose to heal his hip naturally without an invasive surgery. Through physical therapy at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Hairston was able to make a full recovery.
“That experience has helped me become the person I am today,” Hairston says. “It helped me build mental and physical strength and persevering through that was definitely something that helped me get to where I am.”
Now recovered from his injuries, Hairston has incorporated new stretches and routines to stay on top of his health. He also made sure to continue to focus on academics, so when Hairston and his family visited Carnegie Mellon University, they knew the school was the right fit.
“It was the perfect blend of a prestigious education and the football team is was just excellent,” Hairston said. “All the coaching staff is great. They’re one of the top universities in the nation and I’m majoring in business, so they’re really highly ranked for their business school.”
“I feel like I’ve been training for that my whole life,” Hairston said. “When it finally came down to sitting at that table and signing, it was really kind of cool. Just to think that I’ve been waiting my whole life for this and now, here it is right in front of me. It was surreal.”
After signing with the school, Hairston tweeted, saying, “Thank God for blessing me with the talent and ability to play this game.” He also thanked his parents, who are incredibly proud of him.
“You always want the best for your kids and to have seen him work so hard and overcome such adversity, the mental and the physical, it’s truly rewarding,” father Jerry Hairston said.
Hairston mentioned thoughts of the NFL, but intends to stay focused on school and Carnegie Mellon football for now. (Carnegie Mellon University) just felt like the right place to be, “ Hairston said.