Nathaniel Hayes

Effingham County High School
Springfield, Georgia

Playing with Purpose 

The quarterback who never gives up. 

Nathanial Hayes’ football coach frequently asks his players one very important question, “What is your why?” Playing football requires tremendous dedication, determination, and diligence, and players need to be intentional about remembering their individual reasons for putting in the effort, practice after practice and game after game. For Nathanial, who has tragically lost a number of close relatives to diabetes over the years, “My why is my family.” He says, “The way I see it, we can either run from our losses, or we can embrace them and allow them to make us stronger and to help us succeed.” Nathanial always chooses the latter option, and this is what keeps him motivated to give his best in sports, academics, the performing arts, and everything he does to serve his school and community.

As the starting quarterback, Nathanial takes his duty to lead his team to victory very seriously. When he broke his ankle, he made the difficult decision to undergo bi-daily surgery, which would speed up the healing process and allow him to continue playing through his injury and helping his team. As valedictorian, he is compelled to set the example and support and encourage other students. He volunteers to read to elementary kids, he founded a peer tutoring program for the Effingham County High School Basketball Program, and as a member of the school’s Calculus Club, he serves as a math tutor. As a competitive state champion pianist, he uses his gifts and talents to entertain nursing home residents. “True success lies in what we do for those around us rather than what we do for ourselves,” he says.

It is this conviction that guides Nathanial’s dream of obtaining a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He first became interested in the field when he accompanied his father to an orthopedic surgeon visit after his father tore his meniscus. “That day, I made it my goal to become an orthopedic surgeon and follow the footsteps of Dr. Palmer so I can help people the way he helped my father,” Nathanial says. Just as in sports, Nathanial has a strong reason to succeed in his future career. “As long as I have my why, I will never quit. I will forge my own path. I will discover who I am and who I am destined to become, and I will help others by asking them to find their why.”




  • Captain

    Varsity Letter Winner



    School Record Holder

    2022 Georgia Region 2-6A Offensive Player of the Year Runner Up

    5x Savannah Morning News Player of the Week Nominee

    MaxPreps Recognition for Longest Passes in the State of Georgia


  • Varsity Letter Winner

    Highest GPA in Effingham County High School Varsity Basketball Program

  • Baseball

    • Varsity Letter Winner

      Highest GPA in the Effingham County High School Baseball Program

Academic Honors & Awards

  • Valedictorian

    Highest Average Award in All Core Subjects

    National Honor Society Co-President

    Effingham County High School Calculus Club

    Spanish Honor Society

    Carson Scholar Nominee

    2024 Wofford Scholar Nominee

    Coca-Cola Scholarship Program Semi-Finalist

    Georgia Certificate of Merit Award

    Georgia Governor’s Honors Program State Finalist, Communicative Arts

    2023 College Board Rural and Small Town National Recognition Award for Outstanding Achievement

    National Congress of Future Medical Leaders

    National Society of High School Scholars

    1st Place State Beta Club Convention, Performing Arts, Piano

    1st Place State Beta Club Convention, Public Speaking

    1st Place Rotary Speech District Speech Competition

    Rotary Club Oratorical Contest Region Finalist

    912 Sports Magazine Scholar Athlete of the Month (July/August 2023)



School & Community Involvement

    • Student Council President   
    • Beta Club Co-President  
    • Rotary Interact Club  
    • School Newspaper Contributing Writer  
    • School Athletic Student Leadership Team 
    • Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council 
    • Effingham County Recreation Department Assistant Coach  
    • Georgia Certified 4-H Teen Leader 
    • Secretary of State Student Ambassador 
    • Peer Tutoring Program Creator  
    • Optim Orthopedics Medical Center Internship  
    • Colony Bank Leadership Academy  
    • Lutzie 43 Foundation Ambassador for Safe Driving 
    • Georgia Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Award  
    • Effingham County Fair 3x Grand Champion Winner/Mini Booths  





“When we stop to think about our why, perseverance and motivation are no longer optional. They are a necessity.”

~ Nathaniel Hayes ~