Hazard High School coach Pat Payne was one of the most successful coaches in the state of Kentucky. He came to Hazard in the fall of 1926 and immediately set forth with the idea that Hazard could compete with the Lexington and Louisville schools. "It took Pat sometime to convince the people of Hazard that was possible," said Sanders Petrey, a former player.
In 1930 Payne led the Hazard girls team to the state championship and in 1932 took the HHS boys to the state title. (The only coach ever to accomplish this feat in Kentucky).
He was a coach in almost every sport. In 17 years (1926-43) his teams won 101 and lost 41 football games, and won 345 and lost 70 basketball games.
Payne served as golf coach, baseball manager, track coach as well as being an excellent chemistry and physics teacher.
Some of those who played under the legendary coach are Sanders Petrey, Pappy Edwards, Boots Steele, Hoot Combs, Roscoe and Bill Davis, Arnett Strong, Johnny Horn, Fred Bowles, Morton Combs, Bill Morton, and Talmon Barker, to mention a few.
Sanders Petrey: "Pat was as fine a man as I ever knew. He never taught us anything dirty about sports, only the way it should be played. He stressed defense and rebounding. He was a hard-nosed coach but a tender hearted one. I remember we were playing Irvine on a Saturday night on the road. Hoot Combs looked over at me while we were warming up and said we may have a bad game. I agreed with him. Irvine had a small team and sure enough at the half we were behind 9 to 1. Well, we expected a good chewing out from Pat. We walked in the dressing room and kept an eye on the door. Two minutes past, then five, still no coach. Finally when it was about time for us to go back for the second half, Coach Payne poked his head around the door and said 'Gentlemen, we've tried everyway possible at Hazard High to have the best. We stay at the best hotels, eat fair and try to be pretty fair ball players. But tonight I'm ashamed to be part of this.' When the second half started Pat wasn't anywhere around. We knew who would start so we went out and won 39-9. About midway through the final quarter Pat showed up and sent in some subs."
Johnny Horn: "We were playing Irvine and Pat always made me room next to him. He wouldn't let me out of his sight. We were supposed to be in our room but I wasn't. I heard him coming but didn't have to get in my room so I jumped in his closet and pulled the clothes rack around me."
Pappy Edwards: "He was one of the best if not the best that ever coached. When he said something he meant it. If he caught a player downtown in the pool room he would say, 'boy, don't you need to he home resting?' Pat knew I'd be gone, but checked anyway. After he left I snuck in bed and pretended like I had been asleep all the time. Until he passed, he never knew where I was."