Officially, Maloney is Grayslake Central's head coach

 
 
Updated 5/11/2019 6:55 PM

He's officiated Grayslake Central varsity boys basketball games. Brian Moe's teams. Kosta Kougias' teams. He's worked the court in his striped shirt alongside Grayslake Central baseball coach Troy Whalen, who's a fellow referee.

He and his family have lived 15 minutes away in Antioch for seven years.

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Saturday, Mike Maloney was busy being Dad at Alleghany Park in Grayslake, watching oldest daughter Madison play softball.

If Grayslake Central fans think they've seen their new head football coach around town before, they might be right.

Maloney may be the latest football hire, but he is no stranger to the area.

Grayslake's school board approved his hiring Thursday night. Maloney, who served as head coach at Marian Central in Woodstock the last four years, replaces Jason Schaal, who stepped down after five years. He becomes the Rams' seventh head coach this century.

"I was intrigued by the program and its history," said Maloney, 37, who played for a state championship team at Joliet Catholic Academy (Class of 2000) and a Big Ten championship squad at the University of Illinois. "I had been there as an opposing coach, I had officiated the kids in basketball and had been around the culture in the building. It felt like a place where I could see myself and that I wanted to be a part of. Throughout the interview process that was just reaffirmed and reinforced every time I met with a faculty member, an administrator, a player, a family member in the community. It became something that I was more and more drawn to."

It's Maloney's fourth head-coaching job. He spent one year as head coach at St. Ignatius Prep before taking the head job at Johnsburg in 2012. After winning just one game in his first two seasons, the Skyhawks went 9-2 and won the Big Northern Conference East Division. He took over at Marian Central in 2015, leading the Hurricanes to the playoffs three years in a row before a 3-6 campaign last fall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

When he stepped down at Marian Central, he cited wanting to spend more time with his young family. Chopping a half-hour each way off his daily commute will help him achieve that. He and his wife, Sarah ("the glue," he says) have four children: Madison, almost 11, Kaile, almost 8, Delani, 4, and Shaelin, 13 months.

Maloney knows he has work to do at Grayslake Central, where the football team hasn't had a winning season since 2011, when the Rams qualified for the state playoffs for the second year in a row.

"They're all in as a community as far as their investment in the game and the experience for kids," said Maloney, who will teach physical education at the high school. "Regardless of score and record, the facilities and the attendance at almost all of their athletic events is solid. The community is yearning for a cultural shift, a plan, a concrete direction to put us on path for success. You can define success in many different ways. The way we're going to define success is providing exceptional experience for kids and being the foundation for their life."

Getting Grayslake Central back to the playoffs will require patience. But that isn't necessarily Maloney's immediate focus.

"The scoreboard will take care of itself," he said, "as long as we're focusing on those values and championship standards that we believe in."

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