By Rob Vogt
Local Press Writer
A man who is dedicated to getting children involved in sports and keeping them interested is this year’s inductee to the Willow Creek Composite High School Wall of Fame.
Mark Maloney, a 1988 graduate of the school, was inducted at a ceremony that took place on November 9 to open the school’s annual academic achievement awards.
Maloney was unable to attend the ceremony, but he was introduced by retired school teacher Dave Armstrong, a former teacher and friend of Maloney’s.
He said he met Maloney back in 1981 when he was in grade 5. In fact, Armstrong taught many of the recipients on the Wall of Fame.
“I can’t think of anyone more deserving,” Armstrong said. He then outlined just some of Maloney’s accomplishments:
A global leader in youth sports and getting kids involved and keeping them interested, led him to being the:
1. Founder and CEO of Global Sport Academy;
2. Founder and CEO of the DrillBook Coaching App;
3. Development Coach for the Dallas Stars during the 2014-2015 and Calder Cup Champion;
4. Senior Advisor for player development and analytics for the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL.
5. He has been a presenter to the National Hockey League (NHL) Coaches Association.
He continues to be an author, speaker and presenter across North America on themes such as executive leadership, coaching youth development and technology.
Armstrong has been impressed as he’s watched Maloney over the years by his ability to make everyone around him better. “He’s one of those special guys you just want to be around,” he said.
He cited the example of Maloney finding himself at the University of Calgary. He wanted to get involved so he walked on to the hockey team. Walking on, un-invited to any university team is hard enough, but in hockey it is doubly hard with all of the former WHL players that make up the bulk of the rosters. That did not stop Maloney who Armstrong says practises what he preaches - believe in yourself; greatness is in all of us; just go for it.
Willie Desjardins was the coach of the team, before moving onto Dallas and the Vancouver Canucks. He knew he needed Maloney in the dressing room and at practices, even though Maloney got little ice time and was essentially a practice player.
Armstrong shared a personal experience of how Maloney helped him market his own book, by ensuring everyone in his son and daughter’s classes received a copy. It illustrated another of Maloney’s beliefs: How you leave others feeling after having and experience with you becomes your trademark.
“Mark Maloney is loving father, devoted husband, supportive and generous friend, tireless advocate for youth in sport and a never-ending builder of relationships to make people their best,” Armstrong said. Moreover, he may live in Calgary but still tells people he is from Claresholm. “He’s proud to say he’s from here, he’s proud to say he graduated from here,” Armstrong said. Maloney then accepted the award through a video he recorded and sent to the school.
“Willow Creek Composite High School was a very special place,” he said, adding it provided a foundation for students to spread their wings and pursue their dreams in life. He encouraged students to go after their dreams. “You only get one run at this,” he said.
Maloney said he was a dreamer, and wanted to leave a legacy. He graduated in 1988 from a class where his classmates challenged him. There were no cliques. “We were all going on our journey together”, he said.
Being from a small town, the values it provided assisted him.
In 2011, he was told he had a stage four aggressive cancer. He had lived life without regret, and determined to keep doing that. He chose to live, get up every morning and leave the world a better place. In life you can get lost in the noise and you lose your signal. Maloney figured out how he could contribute, and the result has been a life where he gets to do amazing things.
He has a supportive and loving wife. “I found my best friend and teammate to navigate through life,” Maloney said.
Claresholm provided role models, and a sense of belonging that has always been here. “Claresholm is always my home town,” Maloney said. “Thats a great testament of what you are part of there.”
He encouraged students to live life on their own terms, and get on a pathway they choose, a path that students are passionate about and believe in.
“If you find that, you’ll find you don’t work a day in your life,” Maloney said, urging students to build a team around them of like-minded people.
He concluded with some wisdom.
“Be the best version of yourself,” he said.
Maloney encouraged them to be happy being themselves, what they are, and what they have to offer. Successful people put expectations on themselves, they do not have others put expectations on them. Learning to believe in yourself and having great role models gives you the key.
“Those are wings that allow you to fly,” Maloney said