'A lot more than a coach': UWindsor's Gary Malloy dies suddenly
'Gary was, overall, someone who cared about the entire person before the results'
The community is mourning the loss of the head coach of the University of Windsor's cross country team.
Gary Malloy, who also served as the middle-distance coach for the university's track and field team, died suddenly Thursday in Oregon, where he was coaching club-level athletes trying to make the national cross country team.
Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, Malloy spent 20 years as part of the Lancers coaching staff. He also coached members of Team Canada for cross country championships across the world.
Malloy retired five years ago from his long-time job as a science teacher with the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board at St. Joes Catholic High School.
Mike Havey, director of athletics for the University of Windsor said Malloy has had a "tremendous impact" on many students.
"His biggest legacy is how athlete-centred Gary was," said Havey. "Regardless of the situation, he always had the best interest of the student athlete at heart."
Malloy was just 58 when he died.
"He was far too young to go," said Havey. Malloy was out for a run on his own in Oregon when he died, but the official cause of death has not been determined.
For his coaches and athletes, what stands out is that Malloy wasn't just a coach — he was a friend.
Nathan Lennie coached with Malloy at the University of Windsor and knew him for more than a decade.
"He became, not just to the athletes, but to some of us younger guys on the coaching staff, kind of like a second dad," said Lennie. "He was always that kind of fatherlike person."
'Gary wouldn't give up'
Lennie described Malloy as the kind of guy who was big on respect.
"He really believed that respect given was respect earned. I really learned a lot when I saw him not dealing with the easy athletes, but how he dealt with the more difficult situations."
Sometimes that was someone who was having "just a rough go at life" said Lennie.
"Gary wouldn't give up on them. He accepted he couldn't necessarily change the world but he was going to do whatever he could to help somebody."
Alex Cyr spent two years with the Windsor Lancers while doing a masters degree in Kinesiology. He came to Windsor for his program because of Coach Malloy.
"The honest truth is we met at the end of the night, at four in the morning," after a meet said Cyr. "Who did I see on the street walking but Gary and we just sat there in this old place in Quebec City just chatting. That was a really good precursor to the relationship we were going to have."
Cyr was injured for both varsity seasons of cross country, but in between injuries he ran his best times — which he attributes to Malloy.
"Gary was a lot more than a coach. I think some coaches try to make it clear they're not your friend, they're your coach. But Gary was, overall, someone who cared about the entire person before the results."
Cyr moved last week to Moncton for a summer job.
"I've been gone from Windsor for a week and already touched base with him two different times," said Cyr. "Windsor won't be the same."
'Heart of a leader, soul of a priest'
For Lennie, what he'll remember most is the compassion Malloy had for his athletes and fellow coaching staff.
"He was just that kind of guy," said Lennie, remembering Malloy's impressions of other coaches and funny stories.
"He had the heart of a leader and the soul of a priest. If he walked into the room and there was a problem you know we'd come out with a rational, level-headed solution. Things somehow were going to work out."
Lennie said he echoes Malloy when he speaks to athletes.
"He used to always say 'It's a track meet not a funeral,'" said Lennie. "It was a lighter way of putting things in perspective. I say that to my athletes all the time."
Details on how the University of Windsor and the Lancers will honour Malloy's legacy will be determined at a later date.
"You always knew what you were going to get with Gary," said Lennie. "That's something we'll all remember."