Don and Kim Malone of Redfield, volunteer coaches for the White Hall High School soccer team, and active volunteers with the White Hall Soccer Association, were dry when they entered Bulldog Stadium Friday evening.
They were also dry when presented the Youth Award for their work with youth March 6 by the White Hall Chamber of Commerce.
However, Friday evening members of the WHHS team drenched them with ice water from a cooler following a 2-1 victory over the Monticello Billies at Bulldog Stadium.
The coaches were wet and smiling after the boys soccer team all but wrapped up a 5A-Southeast Conference title as the Bulldogs defeated the Monticello Billies 2-1, taking a two-game lead in the conference standings with two games remaining.
Friday’s victory was revenge for the home team after a loss to the Billies earlier in the season. Ben Malone, son of Kim and Don, played a major role in both White Hall scores.
The Malones are a soccer family.
Don Malone is the volunteer head coach for the White Hall team, with Kim serving as the volunteer assistant coach. Ben, as noted, is a team member. All three are active with the soccer association.
Married for 26 years, coaching and working with youth has played a major role in the Malone household for two decades. Off the field, he is a CPA conducting audits of utilities for the state Public Service Commission. Kim heads up the civilian human resources office at the Pine Bluff Arsenal and coaches a girls’ team in the association.
“Coaching kids is fantastic,” said Don later Friday. “You can’t tear yourself away from the field.”
The soccer association fields “mixed teams” — both girls and boys — at certain age levels, with 30 teams ranging from age 4 to 18. He estimated there are 250 to 300 players on the association’s rosters.
Association teams play a split season in the fall and spring, while the high school season is limited to the spring, explained Kim. The playing field is the same size for the older teams and high school.
There is difference between coaching boys and girls soccer, emphasized Don. For the girls, relationships are the key, while skills are the determining factor for the boys. To be successful, a coach must acknowledge the differences between the genders, he said.
The White Hall School Board was not responsive, Don said, when association members asked the district to implement a soccer program, citing Title IX in the federal statutes. Title IX became law on June 23, 1972. While it is best known for its impact on high school and collegiate athletics, the original statute made no explicit mention of sports.
In 1994, the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act required federally-assisted higher education institutions to disclose information on roster sizes for men’s and women’s teams, as well as budgets for recruiting, scholarships, coaches’ salaries, and other expenses, annually.
Twelve years later, the Title IX regulations were amended to provide greater flexibility in the operation of extracurricular activities at the primary or secondary school level.
White Hall saw the need to implement a girls’ volleyball team to meet the test of the law, Malone said. Title IX applies to an entire school or institution if any part of that school receives federal funds, making athletic programs subject to law.
The association agreed to pick up the expenses of starting a soccer program for both genders, Malone said. He and his wife said yes when asked if they would serve as volunteer coaches.
“We said yes, it would be an honor,” Don added. “It is not about money.”
Marc Oudin coaches the WHHS girls’ team.
Parental involvement is crucial, the Malones noted, because of the commitment to practice and making all the games.
Don said soccer is an inexpensive sport: $50 covers the cost of a uniform, field and officials for a season. The only other costs involve shoes, shin guards and a soccer ball.
Both noted lower level of athletic participation by many youth, with other activities drawing their attention. Don said the participation in baseball’s Little League programs in both Pine Bluff and White Hall has dropped sharply.
With Ben Malone coaching an under 6 team, refereeing on the recreational level and playing high school soccer and both parents coaching, scheduling could be a problem for the Malone household.
“Yes, but we love it,” Kim responded with a smile.