Saying goodbye to a mentor
Green River's soccer community gathered at Wolves Stadium Saturday evening to remember and honor a longtime Green River soccer coach.
Standing under a dark sky and holding Styrofoam cups containing lit candles with the words "for Todd" written on the side lit, the group formed a circle around the large GR at the center of the field. Holding those cups long after the Styrofoam started to melt and speaking through both smiles and tears, they spoke about the impact he had on their lives.
Todd Malonek helped coach Green River's soccer teams for nine years, often filling a role as a second booster for the high school players. Head soccer coach Chris Beiber said Malonek was the type of person who would give someone whatever they needed. Malonek would pay soccer camp fees for players who were unable to attend otherwise.
"That man would have given any of us the shirt off his back if we asked him," Beiber said. "A soul like that can never be replaced."
At the beginning of the season, he purchased toe nail clippers for every member of the team. The clippers fit with his passion for the sport, as he tried to drill the importance of keeping players' tools clean and orderly.
This philosophy extended to coaches as well, and at times he would talk to other coaches about keeping their cleats clean if he felt they were not up to his standards.
Malonek had nearly 40 years of experience playing and officiating soccer games in California. While he was a former referee, he would often be one of the first to vent his ire towards the officiating staff if they made calls he did not agree with.
"If you had one good eye, you'd be a cyclops," was one of the lines players remembered a passionate Malonek saying to an official.
That passion for the game was something he worked to bring to many of the players in Green River's soccer program, with many players admitting they would not have continued playing soccer if it weren't for his support and dedication. A few players developed relationships with Malonek after they graduated from Green River High School, occasionally dropping in on their former coach when they were in town.
GRHS lost a dedicated coach Friday, but he won't be forgotten by the boys and girls he coached.