The Times West Virginian

Opinion

November 21, 2013

Malone set East girls’ basketball foundation during 36 years as coach

Many coaches on the Marion County athletic scene make a name for themselves for their won-lost record. And some for the state championships they have won.

Bill Malone could certainly be awarded for longevity and for his won-lost record as well.

Malone was an institution at East Fairmont High School, coaching girls’ basketball at the school for 36 seasons before giving up the reins to a younger man who has been waiting in the wings to take over the job.

James Beckman will be assuming the program this year, and he has credited Malone with setting the foundation for girls’ basketball at East Fairmont High School.

“The things that Bill Malone did in the decades that he was here show that,” Beckman said. “He had some state-title runs in Class AAA and was competitive when the school dropped to the AA level because of enrollment.”

Thirty-six years is a long time. That means he has coached all the young ladies who have come through the school’s basketball program since 1977. And there have been quite a number of them — a list that would include Darcie Vincent, Ann Marie Murray, Vicki Woodring and Sheila Fansler, just to name a few.

Vincent has no doubt gone further up the coaching ladder that any other athlete Malone has coached. She was head coach of the California (Pa.) team that captured the national NCAA Division II basketball championship in 2004, and she also became the first Marion County player to top the 2,000-point mark in scoring before playing college basketball at Duquesne.

East Fairmont probably would have been in more state tournaments (in the 1980s) had powerful Parkersburg not been a regional finalist each year.  It seems that no matter how good the Bees happened to be, they had to meet up with Parkersburg in the regional finals each year, and that was a hurdle they could not top.

Malone was one of the leaders among the state coaches who believed that girls’ basketball was a winter sport and not a fall sport, as it had been during its early years in West Virginia. He really pushed for the sport to be changed to the winter months, and it was.

More young women from West Virginia probably won college scholarships when the schedules called for them to play in winter because the teams began to play when they play.

Malone remains in a coaching position at East Fairmont as the school’s golf coach — leading youngsters in a sport he dearly loves.

Beckman wants others to know about the basketball team’s success as well as the success Bill Malone has had over 36 years with the school’s basketball program.

Successfully leading a program for all but one season of its existence at East Fairmont is a most-noteworthy achievement.

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