Shaw develops patience of Job

Jay Hinton
Glen Rose Reporter

GLEN ROSE — In his first 2 1/2 years of college, one thing Hayden Shaw has certainly gained is patience.

Shaw, who graduated from Glen Rose High School in 2019, just completed his freshman football season at McNeese State University earlier this month, and it was a long time coming due to a global pandemic, two injuries, two natural disasters and snowmageddon.

McNeese State offensive lineman Hayden Shaw (75) just wrapped up his first season with the Cowboys more than two years after graduating from Glen Rose High School in 2019.

“I learned to stay positive and seeing every day as it comes and wait for the next one,” he said. “You can’t prepare for the unpreparable, but you have to stay head high and take every day as it comes.”

Day-to-day was the only way he really could take it because he never knew what each day would bring.

A week before the first game against Southern University in 2019, Shaw, a 6-foot-3, 291-pound offensive lineman, broke his hand and was forced to redshirt his first season.

COVID-19 swept across the world and nation in early 2020, limiting spring practices and classes, and the fall season was moved.

“I really didn’t feel like an athlete,” Shaw said.

In August, just before the 2020 season, Hurricane Laura hit Louisiana, and the category 4 hurricane sent water 18 feet above ground level in some areas. Deaths were in the dozens and damage in the billions.

Lake Charles, Louisiana, home of McNeese State University, was under water.

“A lot of my teammates, like my roommate, live around here (Lake Charles) and they came back and helped clear brush and pick up yards,” Shaw said. “Some people helped reroof houses and helped people find food and shelter.”

Some 40 days later, Category 3 Hurricane Zeta ravaged the area.

“Some people still had tarps on the roofs,” Shaw said when the second hurricane hit, and some houses that could have been saved from Laura were a complete loss after Zeta.

“Teammates’ roofs got ripped off and they had to find ways to get money to get food, clothing and shoes,” he said. “Coming back, I saw how everything had changed and how much destruction nature can do.”

Shaw stayed in Glen Rose and didn’t even report to campus until November, and when he did, the football facilities were still in disarray and they practiced at a local high school.

“It was rough, and there were some days where it was doom and gloom, but you just think about the next day and the season and try to prepare yourself the best you can.”

Just after the new year, the Cowboys were allowed back into their practice facilities for a couple of months before a massive cold spell hit the area, leaving some areas of Lake Charles, including campus, without power or running water for the better part of a week.

Despite it all, Shaw saw the bright side.

“I think it brought us together — the ones who stayed and didn’t transfer out,” he said. “It brought us closer through the adversity.”

COVID pushed back the 2020 season to the spring of 2021. He played some in the first game against Tarleton State, but the next week against Incarnate Word he was blocking from his tackle position and heard a pop in his right foot. He couldn’t put any weight on it.

He ended up missing the remainder of the spring season.

“They didn’t really give me a clear diagnosis for a while,” Shaw said. “I knew after a few weeks I probably wouldn’t get back, but I didn’t know how long the recovery process was. Over the summer, I had to do hydrotherapy on my foot to build strength back.”

This season, Shaw started at home against Western Florida the first week of September, and it was the first time he’d seen that much action in a game since November 2018 when the Tigers lost to Iowa Park in the Class 4A Div. II playoffs at The Star.

The Cowboys went on to finish 4-7 overall and 3-5 in conference play. He played in every game and made a total of three starts. With his redshirt year and the COVID year, Shaw still has three years of eligibility left, and he’s gonna make the best of it because he knows firsthand how bad things can be.

“It feels real good to get out there and play some downs,” he said. “It was good to get on my feet again.”