Nally Rarin' To Go In 9th Season

Malden, MA: A few seasons ago, as he prepared to coach his son in his final season of varsity basketball, Coach Don Nally was considering the season to perhaps be his final one as well. The 08-09 Tornadoes were truly Nally's team. His three captains, Travis Nally, Marcus Armstrong and Stevie Siuda, were players he'd coached since grade school. The team would go on to post a 17-3 record, Nally's finest as head coach in Malden. Unfortunately, a number of off the court difficulties doomed the squad on the court and the Tornadoes fell, at home, in the first round of the tournament. Then, a funny thing happened on the way to Nally's retirement, he wasn't quite ready.

"You know, I was 45 years old at the time. My son was heading to college and I thought I'd head off into the sunset with him and be a coach in the stands." Nally says, upon looking back. "But then I realized, what am I supposed to do for the next 15 years or so? I love my business and I love my family but I also realized, I'd probably drive everyone in both places nuts without basketball...and, well I still love it. So here I am."

The place Nally calls 'here' is also the place of the most solid program in the Malden High School athletic department. Entering his 9th season, Nally stands just 19 wins from 100 for his career. His teams have made the state tournament five times in his eight seasons and looked primed to make it six times in ten with his team returning eight of its top nine players from last season including its top three scorers. More importantly than the wins, for Nally, is the number of Tornadoes that have gone on to play college basketball and earn their degrees while on Nally's watch. 11 Tornadoes have gone on to college basketball careers during Nally's tenure. This year Travis Nally, the coach's son and former captain, and Marcus Armstrong, another former captain, will finish their college careers as starters and captains of their teams at Westfield State and Clark University respectively.

"At the end of the day, the wins and losses are nice, but the true measure of our success is the kids we help get an education through basketball." Nally said with more than a hint of pride. "This year, we held an alumni game a few weeks ago and I said to the staff how great it was looking at the number of former players that had their degrees or were on the way to their degrees. That, is what really keeps me going."

Entering his ninth season, still a few years shy of his 50th birthday and with his son set to graduate college, Nally does not see any need to begin talk of retirement any time soon.

"I feel as refreshed as I've felt in years. I basically have the same two bench coaches, Dave Leary and Mark Ruelle, that I've had my entire time here and we've added a former player, Charlie Connefry, these past two seasons, so I'm really comfortable where I'm at. But at the same time, I'm still very hungry to see the kids improve. And, I'm not going to lie, I'd like to get a GBL title at some point, that would be really special."

So, put away all that talk of retirement, Coach Don Nally is here for a while and the Malden High School Boys basketball program should be in good hands for years to come. Malden High School kicks off tryouts this Monday at 3pm in the Roy Finn Gymnasium.