She vacated the job she'd held since 1979 as head volleyball coach at Jacksonville State University. She parted ways with the game she played at Bradshaw High School (now a part of Florence High) and North Alabama and coached as a graduate assistant at Ole Miss and an assistant at Southwest Baptist University in Missouri before making her way to Calhoun County.
She laid the game aside in order to gain a closer relationship with her son, who was in the second grade at the time.
Now, her son is a sophomore at Auburn, and Slay has found her way back onto the sidelines, this time at the prep level.
Slay replaced former Donoho coach Rachel Poe, who had guided the Falcons the past three seasons.
"I loved coaching," Slay said, "but I loved being at home with my son more. I didn't look at it like I was missing out on coaching volleyball, but that I was gaining spending time with my son. I also love doing church work. So, I had other outlets available."
Slay initially came back three years ago when she headed up Jacksonville's junior high squad. Following a two-year stint there, she took another year off before an old friend, Donoho Middle School Principal Karen Hester, came seeking her services.
"I thought I'd take it to see how it goes," she said.
The Falcons season begins today at White Plains with a tri-match with the Wildcats and Weaver. Donoho brings back a core of young talent, headlined by setter Kelsy Crawford, middle blocker Taylor Kilgore and outside hitter Rachel Stokes. The Falcons came to within a match of advancing to the state tournament last season.
When Slay coached at Jacksonville State, Pleasant Valley, Wellborn and Donoho were the preeminent programs in the area. Now, there is much more parity, especially with teams from Calhoun County making annual trips to the state tournament in Pelham.
Slay said she has been pleased with the team she inherited from the moment they began work in May.
"They're not just playing to play, they're playing to win."