Industrial mourns coach’s passing
By Michael Brooks
For two days, family, students and athletes past and present, lined the hospital halls at Post Acute Medical Hospital in Victoria for their turn to speak to Coach Ted Malek. Hundreds of students who had the chance to play for him wanted to get to speak to him one last time.
Malek, who had been hospitalized after catching COVID-19 was told he didn’t have much time left. With a glass partition between them, one by one people told Coach how much he meant to them and Malek, still coherent, remained the same man he has always been, always putting others first. As they came through, he asked how they were doing and as tears fell down one of his current football player’s face, he said in his easy way of talking to his athletes, “Hey, there is no crying in here.”
Malek, simply ‘Coach’ to some and Buddy or Paw to others, lived a very interesting life.
“When dad was playing baseball at Industrial, they cut the baseball team before his Junior year,” Ted’s son Bowen Malek said.
With no team, Malek went out and talked with some baseball players from Edna and they created a Jackson County team.
When Malek was 19, Industrial brought back baseball to the school, and with his younger brother coming through the high school, he jumped at the chance to be the Industrial baseball coach.
“After that he went and then played baseball at Wharton County Junior College and then played at Pan American in Edinburgh and then he hurt his back,” Bowen continued. “He was one of the lucky ones. He didn’t have to go to Vietnam.”
The next step was opening an Exxon Station.
“At 20 -or 21-years old, dad took out a loan to open the first Edna Exxon Station downtown but when they put the loop in, it killed the downtown business. Rather than pack up and move his business, he sold it and moved to Robstown (Bluntzer). That’s how they ended up there.
“My mother’s family ran a sand and gravel company and so their company built a grocery store and a barbecue house and mom and dad ran that until 1994.”
Malek joined the school board at Banquete, and coached little league right up until 1994, when things changed for the Maleks again.
“In 1994, one of the catholic schools in Corpus asked him to come be their head baseball coach,” Bowen continued. He accepted and by the second year he was made athletic director. By the third year he was baseball coach, athletic director, and dean of students for the entire school.” “I got to be his assistant coach that final year he was at Banquete,” Malek’s daughter Jennifer said.
“Then mom passed in 1998,” Bowen said.
At that time Malek was in the process of running for county judge. Malek didn’t win and he kept working at Corpus Christi Academy, but he was not able to run the store alone, so he turned the store over to his wife’s sister.
“As fate would have it, a new bishop came in to the dioceses and when he did, he combined the two Catholic schools in Corpus,” Bowen continued. “So dad spent one year coaching girls at Incarnate Word Academy. But they had always been a rival, so it was not his cup of tea.
“Dad happened to come across Butch Porter who dad had met years before. Porter had just gotten the AD/head football coach at Banquete and he asked dad to come be a coach at Banquete.”
The problem was, Malek was on the school board at Banquete and a person can’t do both so he resigned from the shool board to become an employee at Banquete and got his first taste of coaching football, to go along with his usual, baseball.
“He loved football and knew a lot about it, but had never coached it,” Bowen continued. “Dad was going to coach linebackers. What is amazing is not only did he learn linebackers, over the course of the next few years he learned how to coach all defensive positions but he also created what we call The Bible for defense. All hand written and hand drawn on old paper.
“The school was reluctant to hand it over to us.”
In 2008 Malek had to take a leave of absence when his mother got sick.
“Dad took a leave of absence to come to El Toro and take care of my grandmother,” Bowen continued. “When she passed, he went back to Banquete and finished the year out and then he decided to retire and moved back here in 2010.”
But his retirement didn’t take.
“He got out of coaching and that lasted all of about three months,” Bowen said with a laugh. “He was miserable.
“I ran a hay business and he drove a tractor and a hay cutter and the only stipulation was that he could have XM radio in there so he could listen to baseball games.”
Then another opening appeared and just like that, Malek was back coaching.
“Dad met Edna Athletic Director Mike Pierce,” Bowen continued. “Edna at the time had lost their defense coordinator so dad took the job and was there for three years. He ended up becoming the head softball coach and started off as the defensive line coach but then Pierce made him the defensive coordinator.”
A few year later he came to Industrial.
Through the stops some unique situations arose.
At Banquete, while on the school board, Malek helped hire a new athletic director, who was a former student of Malek’s. Then, when Malek started coaching at Banquete, he got to coach for the player he taught.
In one of his years coaching baseball at Corpus Christi Academy, softball was introduced. For one year he was head softball and head baseball coach, in what was his fist experience coaching the softball girls. With a little help of one softball player who ended up getting a full ride to UCLA, Malek was able to take that softball team all the way to the state championship.
At every stop along the way, Malek touched the lives of the people around him.
“People like Timiron Williams will be a legacy to Dad,” Jennifer said. “Williams coaches the young kids just like dad did for years.”
“Coach Malek always pushed me and my teammates to be all we could be in life,” Williams said. “I’m honored to say he coached me. I pass the things he used to tell on to my kids when im coaching. Some coaches will coach you all day about football but Malek was one that would coach you about football and about life. Anytime I had problems in the classroom or wherever I could talk to him.
“I lost my grandpa in 2010 and he pretty much filled that role. Any time I have seen him around town, he always asked me how I was doing. He left his mark with so many people.”
As Bowen and Jennifer were sorting through their dad’s belongings, they came across something that was a complete surprise to them.
“He did devotionals for every game that he coached,” Jennifer said. “I knew he was a Christian man, and I knew he was a Catholic, but I had no idea he studied the Bible the way he did because every one of his devotionals started with a verse and is followed by a lesson for the boys about integrity, accountability and there are just tons of these, labelled by games. They aren’t cliches, they are his words.”
They located several hundred written documents, dating back to the early 2000s.
“Each devotional is unique,” Bowen said. “Before the games, dad and the players would go into a room together and have a devotional. He also wrote a letter to mom on their anniversary every year since she passed in 1998.
“There was also a Do’s and Don’ts for new coaches. It had little things that the new coaches may not think of that would resonate with their bosses. It could almost be a manual to new coaches.”
When the news of Malek’s death started spreading, his Facebook page, and the pages of his kids and grandkids were overwhelmed with people saying how much Coach would be missed.
“Dad had the ability to see things in people they didn’t see in themselves,” Bowen said. “He could not only see it but he could bring it out in them and elevate them. I think that is what resonated with people after they left him.
“Buzzy Whitley (former Edna AD) said dad lived a life well lived.”
“The tributes on Facebook are from people that I know he took to a different level and they didn’t forget him for that,” Jennifer said.