There's some serious training going on at Hayden's International Gymnastics Academy in Evans, but gym co-owner Dan Hayden occasionally likes to lighten things up.
One of those moments of levity occurred a few weeks ago, when Hayden learned there was a message on his desk from Arizona State University, where he was a standout on the gymnastics team in the mid 1980s.
Hayden joked, "I wonder if I'm being inaugurated into the Hall of Fame?"
In the words of Gomer Pyle, "Surprise, surprise, surprise!"
The message was that Hayden indeed was being inducted into the Arizona State University Sports Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony was last weekend at the ASU campus in Tempe.
"It was a complete surprise," Hayden said after returning home Monday. "You'd think that after 10 to 15 years people would forget about you."
Hayden's collegiate exploits aren't easily forgotten.
In addition to being named the U.S. Olympic Committee Gymnast of the Year in 1986, he competed for the Sun Devils during the 1985-86 seasons, and helped lead ASU to the Pac-10 title in 1985 and to an NCAA championship in 1986.
The two-time NCAA All-American twice took individual NCAA titles in the parallel and high-bars events, and was the 1985 Pac-10 Conference Gymnast of the Year. Hayden excelled in the 1986 NCAA championships, claiming first in parallel and horizontal bars, second in pommel horse and third all-around.
When Hayden arrived for the induction ceremony, he experienced surprise No. 2.
There was a display detailing his achievements, including a photo of Hayden in action, but the accompanying mug shot was of his twin brother, Dennis.
During his induction speech, Dan pointed out the error, but he didn't want to change a thing - he felt it appropriate that his brother will join him in the Hall.
The sentiment seems fitting. At age 14, the Haydens moved from Buffalo, N.Y. to Arizona, where they would have a better opportunity to improve their gymnastics skills, and the twins went on to star for Arizona State.
The brothers shared a dream, and Dan Hayden came close to fulfillment - he was an alternate for the United State men's gymnastics team for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Leading into his 1988 attempt for the Olympic team, Hayden set a record by winning five gold medals at the USA National Championships.
Hayden was considered a shoo-in to make the Olympic team and travel to Seoul, South Korea. He was in second place going into next-to-last event at the Olympic Trials, but separated his shoulder during warmups for his parallel bars routine.
The Olympic dream ended there, but Hayden doesn't think about what might have been. "In one sense, I wanted to be on the floor (in Seoul), but I'm past that," he said. "I understand the meaning and purpose behind it all."
Dan and Dennis Hayden kept their dreams alive. They opened Haydens International Gymnastics Academy in 1993, and have produced some of the best young gymnasts in the state.
Dan Hayden heads up the boy's program, and his proteges provided some payback last Monday at Augusta Regional Airport - the gymnasts and their parents were waiting with a welcome-home poster congratulating him on the hall-of-fame induction.
"That was really a nice surprise," Hayden said.
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