PREP BASKETBALL: Jonathan Hayes returns to lead CHS varsity girls basketball

Jonathan Hayes is returning to coach the CHS Varsity Girls’ Basketball Team. (CCS)

CULLMAN, Ala. — Cullman High School is turning to a proven commodity with the hire for the new varsity girls basketball coach.

Former coach Jonathan Hayes will be stepping back in as Cullman High’s new varsity girls basketball coach, aiming to pick up where he left off after leading the team to more than 100 wins and some deep playoff runs in 2009-2015.

Hayes will take over for Josh Hembree, who has coached the Lady Beacrats from 2016-2022.

Hayes’ original six year tenure with the lady Bearcats saw his teams total 108 wins, and his teams reached the sub-state round of the playoffs in the last five of his six seasons. His teams also made regional play three times, along with two trips to the Sweet 16 and one Elite 8 appearance. His 2011-2012 team set the school record for season wins — a record broken by last season’s state championship boys basketball team.

“I always knew that record would be broken and I couldn’t be happier to see it broken with a championship trophy as this year’s boys team has set a new record,” Hayes noted.

Hayes made the decision to step away from coaching in 2015 to spend more time with his family when his mother was diagnosed with cancer, noting he felt he couldn’t give the program the focus and energy needed to sustain his successful run at the time. But he’s now returned to coaching, and spent last year leading the Cullman Middle School 7-8th grade girls team to a combined 39-4 record.

“I was ecstatic last year when Coach Hembree gave me the chance to get back into basketball. After my mother passed and things seemed to level out a couple of years later God really reignited my passion for the game and so I mentioned to Coach Hembree about getting back in if anything ever opened up,” Hayes said. “As fate would have it the CMS position opened, so I jumped at it. Accepting the Head Coaching Position at CHS has been a decision that I have labored many hours over, as Coach Hembree and I have become very close over the last six years. I truly have the utmost respect for him and wish nothing but the best for him and his family.”

Cullman City Schools Athletic Director Mark Stephens said Hayes was the unanimous selection from the athletic committee following interviews conducted over the past week.

“He is a great fit for our girls and has proven success with his system as a head coach,” he said. “We are excited about what the future holds under his direction.”