HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Stingers' Malicky becomes dean of area coaches
MARION CENTER — Dave Malicky never thought of himself as one of the “old guys” until it was brought to his attention that with Ab Dettorre’s resignation at Blairsville over the summer, the longtime Marion Center coach became the longest-tenured football coach in the Heritage Conference and Indiana County.
“That makes me feel old,” Malicky said through laughter. “Being one of the older (area coaches) is an odd feeling.”
Malicky is entering his 17th season as the Stingers’ coach and has been at Marion Center longer than any other area coach by a five-year margin.
“When I came in to coaching, there were some fantastic coaches around,” Malicky said. “Not that there aren’t today, but you had Frank Krevetski, Jerry Page and Abby (Dettorre). It’s funny because (Marion Center assistant coach) Paul DeHaven and I used to say they were the old guys. Now we’re those guys. It’s our 25th year together. It’s our silver anniversary.”
Malicky is entering his 30th season overall and his 25th at Marion Center. He joined the staff in 1989 and coached the junior high program until he took over the varsity program in 1997.
Prior to Marion Center, Malicky was an assistant for three seasons at Penns Manor, and he began his coaching career with a two-year stint at Saint Francis University.
Malicky has compiled a career record of 85-74 and led Marion Center to the Heritage Conference title in the league’s inaugural season in 2000. He is the area’s wins leader among active coaches.
“The young men are still great. They keep you young,” Malicky said. “I still love being around them. Even when you have a bad day, they make you feel good. We’ve always had great kids. It’s been great. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
One of the most noticeable things about Malicky and his staff is the nurturing approach the coaches take with their team instead of chewing out their players.
“That’s just the group of coaches we have,” Malicky said. “That’s our personalities, be it good or be it bad. ... The only time I get mad is when there’s a lack of effort.”
Malicky’s positive approach partially stems from a health scare he had 15 years ago when he was 36. In the summer of 1998, as Malicky was preparing for his second season as head coach, evidence of a heart condition arose and forced him to undergo heart valve- replacement surgery.
The Stingers’ offensive coordinator, Dave Sitosky, took over the team and served as the interim coach, although the Stingers’ 5-4 mark that season counts toward Malicky’s career record.
“I think perspective is the word I’m looking for,” Malicky said. “I remember my first game back (after surgery). We were at Northern Cambria. They had a very good team, and I remember Dave Sitosky says to me, ‘You nervous?’ You’re always nervous, and if you’re not, something’s not right. I said, ‘I’m nervous in a different way. This isn’t life and death out here.’ It’s not everything. You play the game to win, of course … but at the same time, if you give it your best effort and come up short, I can live with that.
“Those 48 minutes during the game, it’s extremely important to me, it’s important to the players, it’s important to a lot of people, and when you lose, you question what you could have done better. But at the same time, you’ve got to learn to walk away from it.”
“He just has a great outlook on things,” DeHaven said. “He’s a great guy to work with because he keeps things in perspective, and I think that comes from him being a great family person and having a great family. That helps keeps things in perspective.”