Sean Mallon had done all sorts of sales jobs since leaving Gonzaga University nine years ago.
Everything from financial services to medical and dental equipment sales. Then one day, in the middle of making money, he read a line in a book that knocked him over.
“Instead of making a living I wanted to start making a life,” Mallon, 32, said.
Mallon, a 2002 Ferris graduate, has been named head boys basketball coach at his alma mater. He played at Gonzaga from 2003-07.
What Mallon lacks in coaching experience he hopes to make up for in being around the game most of his life.
“Sean hasn’t gone the more traditional route of being a freshman or (junior varsity) coach,” Ferris athletic director Stacey Ward said. “Clearly Sean doesn’t have that part but playing at the highest level that he has played at can equate to the experience you’d accumulate as a coach day to day.”
Mallon, who was a part-time assistant at Ferris last year and a junior varsity assistant the year before, is in his first year as a teacher at Ferris. He replaces Don Van Lierop, who retired after 30 years of coach.
Ferris interviewed six for the position. The others were Michael Westfall, Eastern Washington University vice president for university advancement; Rogers head coach Joel Soter; Ferris head girls coach Rob Servine; Ferris boys assistant Brian Kissinger; and Ferris boys assistant Jared Hodl.
Mallon had his epiphany a couple of years ago. When he started attending Gonzaga, he wanted to be an education major. But he took a different route. Last year he got his master’s degree in teaching while student teaching at Ferris.
“Obviously it was a huge switch. Luckily my wife was supportive,” he said.
He would have been a full-time assistant this year but the Mallons welcomed a daughter just before school started.
Ferris didn’t have a teaching position to offer with the coaching job. That made Mallon an even more attractive candidate since he teaches at the school.
“Sean has proven himself to already be an outstanding and innovative classroom teacher and he’s just in his first year,” Ward said. “He has a well-rounded view for the place of sports in society.”
Mallon was a standout player at Ferris. He played three years for the late Wayne Gilman before finishing his senior year under Van Lierop.
“I had to look at what’s going to make me happy for the next 30 years,” Mallon said of his pursuit of a teaching degree. “I started as an education major and shouldn’t have switched.”
Ward knows the transition to being a head coach will be a challenge for Mallon.
“There’s no doubt that will be hard,” Ward said. “But I feel like Sean is an old soul in some ways. He has a maturity in him that makes you feel he sees the world and studies the world both in his mind and his heart. He has strength of character that makes me feel confident that he will be successful.”
Mallon inherits a program with some returning talent.
“What I’ve always known about myself is I feel good about how I understand the game of basketball,” Mallon said. “There are some nice pieces in place. The kids are hungry to build on that. I want to build a culture where kids have a good experience when they come through the program. I know the affect that Ferris basketball had on my life. It’s a pretty humbling opportunity.”
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