Brother Norman Hayes, a defensive standout who led the Harvard University football team to an undefeated season in 2014, was honored during the fourth annual Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Scholarship Awards Gala.
The event, held the weekend of November 21-23, also celebrated the 98th anniversary of Gamma Chapter. Brother Hayes is a 2013 initiate of Gamma Chapter.
“The Norman Hayes story is confirmation that the Omega way of life is built upon love and friendship is most impactful, and represents the best in life,” said Brother Antonio F. Knox Sr., the Fraternity’s 40th Grand Basileus. “Brother Hayes’ story is both inspirational and motivational and is worthy to be read by all.”
“Brother Hayes is proof that Omega men can get it done in the classroom and the gridiron.” Knox said.
The Gamma 98th Anniversary offered many Pearls. I congratulate the Brothers on a job well done.
Brother Hayes, a senior psychology major, was elected the 141st captain of the Harvard Crimson. The football season culminated with the Crimson capturing the Ivy League title with a 31-24 victory over Yale. Brother Hayes led the team with 13 tackles. Yale had averaged 40 points per game prior the 131st meeting but the Harvard defense held them to their lowest point total of the season.
For the first time in the history of the rivalry, the captains for both teams were African-American. Brother Hayes was also named to the first-team All-Ivy League as a defensive back.
Brother Hayes said as an Omega man, he has a high standard to uphold.
“I care that people know I’m an Omega man for the benefit of my brothers in the fraternity and for the advancement of African-Americans,” he said. “I’m glad my spirit of love, humility, and work ethic has inspired so many of my brothers and I hope we all continue to grow and mature as men.”
“Iron sharpens iron and by each of us continuing to grow, we will slowly begin to erase some of the negative perceptions of our fraternity (and black Greek organizations in general) and further unite the black community in each of our uplifting ways,” Hayes said.
Over 200 guests attended the annual gala that recognized Omega men for their service to the Fraternity and others for their community service. It also the culmination of this year’s National Achievement Week for Gamma, Iota Chi and Eta Phi chapters.
The Just Love Foundation and the Kaleidoscope Group sponsored the gala. The gala is named in honor of Brother Benjamin E. Mays, who was initiated into the Fraternity through Gamma Chapter in 1919, while he was a student at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Brother Mays later became an internationally recognized minister and educator He was president of Morehouse College and served as a lifelong mentor to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Award recipients at the gala included:
Brother Eric Mitchell, Director of Neighborhood Services, A.B.C.D., Inc., Dorchester, MA & South End, Graduate Omega Man of the Year – Gamma Chapter
Brother Yvel Joseph, Co-Founder Performance Fitness & Training, L.L.C., Superior Service – Gamma Chapter.
Andrea Swain, Executive Director, Yawkey Club of Roxbury, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, – Citizen of the Year – Gamma Chapter
Brother Michael Vance, V.P. Field Operations, A.B.C.D., Inc. – Superior Service – Iota Chi Chapter
Shauna Rigaud – Citizen of the Year – Eta Phi Chapter
Brother Derrick Barker – Omega Man of the Year – Eta Phi Chapter
Deondre Kennard – Citizen of the Year – Iota Chi Chapter
Brother Reginald Brothers, an undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Omega Man of the Year and keynote speaker – Iota Chi Chapter.
Gamma Chapter awarded scholarships to Christoff J. Glaude, Gregory Hunter, high school essay winner and Jacqueline V. Coston, Larry Simon Ascending Collegiate Scholar Award.
Brother Hayes said he is inspired on and off the field by the loss of his younger sister, Olivia who died on Sept. 1, 2008, weeks after she was struck by a truck while walking to her school bus stop.
This year, Brother Hayes’ story has been featured in Harvard Magazine, the Boston Globe and in a video feature on ESPN Gameday.
Brother Hayes said he tries to honor Olivia in everything he does. The family started the Livvy’s Love Inc. Foundation, which provides scholarships and grant awards to deserving youth between the ages of 5-21 years old.
“The First District is home to some of best colleges and universities in the world,” Brother Michael Jefferson, First District Representative. “So, it should come as no surprise that our great fraternity has been well represented at these prestigious institutions of higher learning by young men such as Norman Hayes.”
Prior to the Ivy League championship against Yale, the bond of Omega brotherhood between Norman Hayes and his chapter brothers was evident.
Omega men were visible in different parts of the bleachers and cheered Brother Hayes and the Crimson football team. As the final seconds ticked away and Harvard’s victory was unquestioned, all Omega men rushed the field and hoisted
Brother Hayes on their shoulders in celebration.
Gamma Chapter hosted a reception in Barker Hall on the Harvard campus for Brother Hayes and his family. Nearly 100 people attended. Brother Sharrieff Christmas presented Brother Hayes with Gamma Chapter’s Undergraduate Omega Man of the Year award.
Brother Hayes thanked brothers Christmas, Claude Tolbert, Lenward Gatison, Eric Mitchell and Reynaldo Kirton for their guidance and mentorship.
Brother Norman Hayes, Sr. spoke on behalf of the family and thanked the Gamma leadership for providing support and guidance to their son.
Fellow Gamma Chapter members, Brother Tolbert, who also played football at Harvard and Brother Richard Taylor (Harvard Law and Harvard Business) also, spoke.
As a child, Brother Hayes said, he remembered how his father’s Omega brothers surrounded his family and supported them through difficult times. He never forgot the friendship that he witnessed between his father and Omega brothers.
Brother Hayes said he also wanted to experience that and contribute to that bond of brotherhood.
“Our fraternity was built upon friendship and love and I want people to know that I’m proud of my fraternity,” Brother Hayes said. “I’m proud of our ability to unify the black community and our further efforts to uplift around the world.”