It took many circumstances and time for Malleke Lord to recognize the impact that Coach Vidal Sandoval had on his life when he was a teenager. Today, they share a strong bond that led Coach Sandoval to the Coaching Corps Hall of Fame and Malleke to carry his message through his job and his family.
As a 10th grader, Malleke Lord had an important decision to make. Meet the demands and challenges of his track coach, Vidal Sandoval, or quit the track team and take calculus instead. As intimidating as Coach Sandoval was, the threat of a math class was too much!
“He [Sandoval] pushed us more than ever,” Malleke describes when asked about Coach Sandoval, “but I stuck with it.”
The first few weeks were hard and Malleke was not yet ready to respond to his coach’s demands. He always faked an injury to avoid running with the better runners. But Coach Sandoval was there with him at every step.
“He pushed me to run a faster mile and I beat my personal best,” he remembers. “After that, I was inspired to improve.”
Malleke, who played soccer, rugby, and soccer, recalls having 30 or 40 coaches throughout his childhood. At the time, Coach Sandoval was just one of them but as the years passed, Malleke realized that the track coach he feared was the one who had the most impact on his life.
“We weren’t the closest, but how he coached, how he led by example, how he was always there for everyone,” Malleke said. “I took after him when I started coaching and we created a bond later in life.”
Malleke, who has been involved in sports and coaching his whole adult life, carries with him the advice shared by Coach Sandoval when he was a kid.
“Always go all out,” he says when asked about the one phrase that Vidal Sandoval always preached to his students. Malleke who has two kids echoes this mantra to his 10-year old son, “Now I’m the one telling him to always go all out, to always push himself.”
As Malleke said, “If you play a sport as a kid, it sets a foundation in your life. Anything you do, police, cook, doctor, etc, you have to be disciplined. Playing a sport with a supportive coach instills these life skills that help with your future.”
That’s what happened to him through track and Coach Sandoval and that’s the reason why he decided to nominate Coach Sandoval to the Coaching Corps Hall of Fame.
Long after the running class in 10th grade, it all added up for Malleke.
“When I understood what he did for me, I realized that he was the most impactful coach I have ever had,” said Malleke. “We weren’t as close as we should’ve been when he was my coach but I’m grateful for being in touch with him now.”