COLORADO SPRINGS — Change isn’t always easy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be embraced.
After 13 years at the helm of the Mitchell football program, Archie Malloy stepped down to assess what path he wanted his career to take in the future.
With summer workouts underway, Malloy sat down to talk about coaching for a new team and the challenges he’s embracing while doing so.
Q: How soon after you left Mitchell did you know you wanted to get back into coaching?
Malloy: There’s that lament period where you kind of sit back and reflect on a career that you’ve had and you kind of wonder going forward what you want to do next for the next phase of your life.
I’d say about two or three months afterwards is when I came to the realization that I’m a coach for life. It’s something that’s in me and has been bred into me and it’s just absolutely what I love doing.
Q: Were there any other openings that you looked at besides St. Mary’s or was that just the one that stood out to you?
Malloy: No, there were a couple of openings that were appealing to me. That again is what kind of prompted me to realize that I’m a coach and I’m in this thing for life. St. Mary’s was just a natural marriage and it just seemed right and things just kind of fell into place for that for me.
Q: What are the challenges that you see from going to a bigger public school to a smaller private one?
Malloy: I think there are more similarities than there are differences. You’re working with student-athletes nonetheless.
Some of the challenges, though, that you face are numbers. You’re always dealing with the numbers game. That’s becoming an issue nationwide as far as, not just football, but high school athletics as a whole and just getting kids out there and getting them involved to enhance their high school experience. The biggest one I would say is the numbers game, but there are a lot more similarities, I would say, than differences.
Q: What are some of the similarities that you’re talking about?
Malloy: You’re working with student-athletes. You’re working with young men who are obviously committed to the game of football and the experience that it provides for them and going forward in their post-high school lives.
The things that football helps them build as far as character goes, as far as commitment, as far as team building, as far as being a part of something bigger than yourself and becoming selfless. It’s almost as if you’ve changed the school, but you’re looking at the same young men.
Q: Do you have any specific philosophies or beliefs that you’ll take with you regardless of where you coach?
Malloy: My philosophy has always been that you earn the right to win. Earning the right to win doesn’t guarantee victory, but what it does is gives your student athletes the opportunity to be disciplined and well prepared to face adverse situations without panic.
Q: How about on the field? Are there things you want to continue to do or are you going to have to adjust a bit?
Malloy: I think the game of football is always evolving and there are things that we’ll do. We’ll run a pro-style offense. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 20 years. It’s what I came up in, it’s what I ran collegiately as well.
There are different aspects of it that you obviously have to change depending on your personnel and who you have. We’re going to run the football, we’re going to throw the football around, we’re going to be hard-nosed, we’re going to be tough, we’re going to be a physical team.
Q: St. Mary’s lost in the first round of the playoffs last year. They lost a bunch a seniors and now they have a new coach. What’s an ideal situation for you this year in terms of goals?
Malloy: Ideal goals would be to have the kids buy in not just to myself, but to each other. Buy into the team concept, buy into the fact that they are representing one of the most prestigious high schools in Colorado Springs and going forward and doing that on a week-in and week-out basis, and inspiring both them and myself to play to the best of our ability.
They had a wonderful season last year and they lost 17 seniors off of that team so once again it becomes the numbers game. How do we recoup that? How do we replenish that? How do we get the numbers back to where they need to be?
Q: Coming into a new program, you adopt the traditions and rivalries that come with it. How much of that have you heard just in your summer workouts?
Malloy: You’re exactly right. The very first thing that just popped out to me was as you walk into the gymnasium and into the weight room there’s a huge cutout jersey of Rudy of Notre Dame fame. That just sends chills up and down your spine.
If you’ve ever watched the movie Rudy, you know the adversity that young man went through and how his teammates committed to him and to the University of Notre Dame. It’s just traditions like that. When you think catholic schools, you think Notre Dame.
In the equipment room they also have stakes with numbers on them and when they get their jerseys, they take their stakes home and they put them in their yard and they stay there all season long. It gets the neighborhood and everyone who drives by know that this is a St. Mary’s High School football player.
Q: Coming into a season, everyone is aiming for a state championship. As a coach, how do you balance lofty goals with the patience needed to build a winning program?
Malloy: It’s funny that you ask that because as I was sitting this morning, I was listening to a couple of the NFL coaches talk about how they approach each season. At that level, it’s championship or bust. At our level, it’s a week-in and week-out thing.
If you set your sights going into the season at the one goal, the only goal is to win a state championship, you need to realize that in each classification there’s only one team that walks away having achieved that as their ultimate goal.
You have to be careful when you make that your only goal because if something goes wrong along the way, what do you have to commit to? What do you have to sell the kids in your program to continue to work hard on a week-in and week-out basis? The goal is to be prepared. The goal is to earn the right to win.