Raiford Malone is hesitant to say he’s done coaching for good. If anything, Malone’s on a break, an extended halftime for a coach who’s well deserving of it.
Malone, the only head coach the Ryan girls soccer program has ever known, has resigned after coaching at Ryan for the past 20 years.
The search for his replacement is under way, Ryan Principal Vernon Reeves said Wednesday.
Malone is still teaching at Ryan, but he won’t be roaming the sidelines for the foreseeable future. He said he decided to take a break from coaching so he could spend some time watching his kids play their sports.
“Those were the things that led to my decision to get out now,” Malone said. “I don’t feel like I’m completely done coaching, honestly. And I told them that when I was leaving — that I just want to get out and enjoy my kids for the next five years.”
Malone’s son, Jacob, is a junior at Ryan and plays the same sport his father coached. The younger Malone earned a spot on the All-District 5-5A first team last season. Malone’s twin daughters, Alee and Taylor, are finishing up seventh grade.
In 20 seasons at Ryan, Malone has a record of 255-157-46. Ryan has made 14 playoff appearances, won the district title six times and made two state tournament appearances. This season, Ryan went winless in district play.
The 45-year-old coach has never strayed far from his hometown. He graduated from Denton in 1985 and went to North Texas before earning his first coaching job at Calhoun Middle School.
Malone was atop a hill at Calhoun teaching his PE class when former Denton school district athletic director Bill Carrico drove by in his old truck to talk to Malone.
Carrico asked Malone if he still wanted to coach soccer. Malone said yes. Carrico told Malone to show up in his office at 3 p.m. that afternoon.
Malone arrived in his gym shorts and a T-shirt, and he’s been a head coach ever since.
When he was hired, Ryan wasn’t what it is today. The school’s teams were still nicknamed the Broncos and the school had yet to become its own entity. The Ryan Raiders wouldn’t come into existence until two years after Malone’s arrival.
DISD swimming coach Chris Cullen is the only coach who’s worked with Ryan athletes for a longer period of time.
Eric Ramirez, the girls soccer coach at Hebron, was an assistant on Ryan’s boys team before landing at Hebron in 1999. Ramirez said he and Malone have maintained a good relationship over the years and Malone has helped elevate Ryan’s program.
“He’s been the main reason they’ve made two state tournament appearances and their program has been as good as it has,” Ramirez said.
Reeves also spoke highly of Malone.
“He’s a good representation of why Ryan High School has become known as the home of champions,” Reeves said. “He is a huge part of that being characteristic of our school.”
Malone was quick to say he still wants to coach at some point. He said he’d love to be an assistant — a role he’s never had the chance to fill.
And as enticing as leaving Denton sounds, Malone said, it’s something he can’t envision.
“I don’t see myself leaving this town,” Malone said. “I love Denton, Texas, and I can’t imagine shopping around and going anywhere else.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.