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NDCL announces hiring of Pamela Malone as girls soccer coach

Mar. 12—A legend in Ohio high school soccer is returning to the touchline.

March 12, Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin announced the hiring of Pamela Malone as its new girls soccer coach.

Malone is synonymous with area high school soccer after her distinguished run at Chagrin Falls from 1991 to 2021. During that tenure, she led the Tigers to 398 wins, six state final fours and Division II state titles in 1996 and in her final campaign in 2021 as a co-head coach with Joe Ciuni.

She will be retiring after this school year from her longtime physical education teacher role at Chagrin. With that in mind, her son, Quinn, called his mother with a question — and on it went from there.

"I've had two seasons where I've just been a spectator going to games and watching and enjoying that," Malone said. "My son actually works at NDCL and jokingly said, 'Hey mom, the head coaching position is open.' And I said, 'Yeah ... LOL.' Right? And then he goes, 'No, why don't you come in and talk to (NDCL athletic director Jason Baxter)? So I went in, and actually, the principal is Jodie Ricci, who I worked with at Chagrin like 28 years ago.

"She goes, 'Yeah, come on in. You'll love these kids. They're awesome.' And I just said, you know what? I'll go talk to Jason. And so we talked, and it just kind of planted the seed. I said, 'How cool would it be to start new?' Not to have any history at the school and just kind of take a team that was struggling last year and see what I could do with them. To really see, 'Hey, can I do something with this team? Can I challenge myself again?'"

Baxter lauded Malone and the impact the hiring will have on the Lions' program.

"Hiring a coach of the caliber of Pamela Malone will help to revitalize our program and set it up for success for years to come," Baxter said in a prepared statement. "Her record of on-field success speaks for itself.

"But getting to know her during the process, and knowing of all the great work she has done off the field as an educator for 35 years and the last eight years as a trainer for the Positive Coaching Alliance, I have no doubt she will make a profound impact on our student-athletes."

Malone was also a 14-time Chagrin Valley Conference and six-time Greater Cleveland Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association coach of the year at Chagrin, as well as the 2021 United Soccer Coaches National Coach of the Year. The Tigers had four All-Americans and 25 All-Ohioans during her 30 years with the program.

Her 398 career wins, according to the Ohio High School Athletic Association girls soccer record book, ranks sixth all-time.

NDCL went 2-9-4 a year ago. The Lions have five seasons of 10 wins or more since 2009 and made a regional appearance in 2019.

Malone said Jerry Drda, the former Regina coach and longtime NDCL assistant, will be returning to the program as an assistant.

Following Chagrin's 2021 D-II state title run, Malone noted the concept of missing coaching didn't necessarily strike her first season out in 2022. But in 2023, it did start to kick back in.

Now, after a phone call from her son with a question, an all-time great is back in the fold.

"The first year, no, because I could not have thought of a better ending to my career at Chagrin," Malone said. "I don't miss the switching hats — 3 to 5, you put another hat on. Then you're like, 'OK, I've got to get up for this.' I didn't miss that. I felt like I was OK with how my career at Chagrin ended. But last year, it was like, 'Wow.'

"And actually with PCA, the Positive Coaching Alliance, I was like, 'I'd really like to get back to coaching.' Because I loved coaching the athletes when I would talk to them in these workshops. And I just kind of said, 'You know, I'd love to take a new group and challenge myself and see what I could do with them.' "