Vincent basketball coach John Hadder announces retirement

Published 10:24 am Thursday, April 27, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

VINCENT – For Vincent Middle High School head basketball coach John Hadder, his time at the school has been about more than his 16 consecutive trips to sub-regionals, his nearly 300 wins and his 12 area championships.

Yes, those mattered to him, but his job quickly became about seeing the happiness on his kids’ faces when they achieved the goals they set out to reach.

Now, after 27 years as a teacher, 17 years total at Vincent and 14 as the head basketball coach, Hadder has decided it is the right time to retire.

“At first, I got a lot of enjoyment, personally from it,” Hadder said of his time leading the Yellow Jackets. “A lot of it was, let’s see what we can do. The highs and lows of that. But, as the years went on, after we had kind of done a lot, it really changed to seeing the players happy. When you see them happy and proud of themselves for what they were able to accomplish, that’s what made me happy. The last few years here, I really wanted to help them be able to achieve their goals. That was my takeaway and the enjoyment I have from it.”

With 425 games coached as a head coach the past 14 years, Hadder has totaled nearly 300 wins at the school, posting an overall record of 295-130.

What was most impressive, however, was the consistency he was able to help the program sustain.

During his time as the team’s head coach, Vincent made the postseason (sub-regionals) every year, and in 12 of those 14 years, the Jackets won the area tournament, while they made 11 total trips to at least the Sweet 16.

“Being able to see what we accomplished has been special,” he said. “It took a couple of years before I really felt like our kids really bought in to the expectations that I had. Sometimes, that happens quicker than other times, but after about, I’d say, my first year actually, I saw a big swing in year two. Then, by year three, it had gotten to where they had really bought into it and knew how I was, and I can be demanding. They picked up on what it meant to play here and what I expected. Once you get that rolling, it just kind of carries on.”

However, even with all of that sustained success, he remembers the heartbreaking moments as much as he does the good, if not more.

Some of those moments included two buzzer-beating shots that prevented his team from reaching the Final Four, while others were the team coming up short of the area championship in the two years they didn’t accomplish that goal.

“I remember the things we didn’t do well as much as the things we did well,” Hadder said. “We lost two buzzer beaters in the regional finals. Sand Rock on a three from the corner to win it, and then Tanner hit a long buzzer beater. I was talking to Blake Allums a couple of weeks ago about area stuff. We had won a bunch of area titles in a row, but this particular group lost to Central Coosa in back-to-back years the last two years. We had 12 years in a row with an area championship, but two years in a row, we didn’t. Then we won it again this year, and he said we got it back on track.”

He said those moments of not making it or falling short of a regional berth, which hurt the players, just showed how much the program meant to them and that they understood the standard.

“I obviously wish we could have turned two or three more of our regionals into trips to Birmingham, but that consistency speaks to the way the kids bout into what we asked them to do, and that’s what I’ll always remember,” Hadder said.