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Former local coach, teacher who left a ‘legacy’ was a mentor on and off the field

Preston Haley. | Courtesy Haley family
REXBURG — A former local coach and teacher is being remembered for never giving up and living a life that positively impacted countless people.
Preston Haley, 77, died on Feb. 9 after a 34-year battle with multiple sclerosis. His son, Vince Haley said his dad taught him and others about hard work, endurance, chasing after dreams and not letting the world dictate what you do or don’t deserve.
“My dad rose from the ashes of poverty. He grew up in very poor circumstances in Stockton, California,” Vince told “His dad died of alcoholism at the age of 41. My dad’s grandpa also died at the age of 41. My dad had a goal to live until he was 82. He wanted to double their lives. He came dang close compared to what he was dealt with in life.”
Vince said when his dad was around the age of 16, he would drop his mom — who didn’t have a drivers license — off at night so she could work as a nurse. He’d then go home and take care of his younger siblings before returning in the morning to pick his mom up.
“That kind of attitude of just get up and go and get after it every day is an enduring legacy of what he left for those that knew him,” Vince stated.
After graduating from high school, Haley played football at San Joaquin Delta College. He then played for and graduated from Chico State in Chico, California. He later earned a master’s degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
Haley had a love for sports and coached wrestling, basketball, baseball and golf but he had a passion specifically for football. He was the head football coach — and a math teacher — at Madison High School from 1978 to 1985. During those seven years, he coached the Bobcats to four football state championships in 1980, 1982, 1983 and 1984. He finished his time at Madison with a total record of 71-10.

Preston Haley while coaching at Madison High School. | Courtesy Haley family
Haley, who also led the Madison High School golf team to two state championships, was known for developing his players not only on the field but off the field, too. Vince said his dad took the time to get to know his players, their stories and he encouraged them to be their best self.
“There’s a handful of guys that have texted me or called me and as a high school football coach, they’ve said to me, the three most important people that have helped shape my life are Jesus Christ, my dad and Coach Haley,” Vince mentioned.
Haley considered his time at Madison the “golden years” of his career. In 1985, he went on to achieve his dream of coaching college level football as the defensive line coach and special teams coordinator at Ricks College. He coached until 1992. Haley was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1991 but continued teaching at Ricks College until his retirement in 2012.
“His influence on his community is immeasurable,” Haley’s daughter Sarah Nitta wrote online. “I’m one of the lucky ones who experienced his leadership at home. I’ll always be proud to say, ‘I’m Preston Haley’s oldest daughter.’”

Preston Haley with football players at Ricks College. | Courtesy Haley family
Once Haley was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and had to stop coaching, he made furniture, did family history and picked up fly fishing and fly tying. He even taught a fly tying class at Brigham Young University-Idaho.
Vince said his dad loved talking to people, would always make friends with others and loved his 19 grandchildren and the immense joy they brought him.
“He is a powerful example of the wealth a person may accumulate through relationships,” Haley’s son Matt Haley wrote on Facebook.
Vince wants people who knew his dad to know that he’d want you to continue to move forward and do your best in life.
“Dad was almost immortal. There were so many times that he could have given up, and he didn’t. He always kept going and always fought,” Vince said. “It is incredible to me. He’s never complained. He’s always been so positive. He’s always lived the principles that he taught to those he coached and taught at school.”
Funeral services will be held Feb. 17 at 10 a.m. at the Rexburg East Stake Center, located at 387 South 4th East. A viewing will be held and the family will receive visitors on Feb. 16 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Rexburg East Stake Center and prior to the funeral service from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.

Preston Haley. | Courtesy Haley family

Preston Haley holding a plaque that is hanging at the Madison High School football stadium in his honor.| Courtesy Haley family

The plaque hanging at the Madison High School football stadium. | Courtesy Haley family

Idaho High School Football Hall of Fame plaque Preston Haley received. | Courtesy Haley family
The post Former local coach, teacher who left a ‘legacy’ was a mentor on and off the field appeared first on East Idaho News.

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