June 27, 2016 (South Boston, MA) “Red Bull up!” This is not a phrase you would ordinarily hear spoken to excite a group of 11 year old softball players, but Richie Mallard was anything but ordinary. A dedicated coach and volunteer for the South Boston Girls’ Softball League (SBGSL), a loving father, and a dear friend, Richie touched the lives of each and every player he coached throughout his career. His story is one of passion and devotion.
Richie Mallard was a South Boston native known for his skills in the boxing ring and his incredible mentorship to young members of South Boston and the neighboring communities. A New England Diamond Belt and Junior Olympic Boxing Champion, Richie was no stranger to achievement. He believed that fun and commitment were the building blocks of success – in whatever way success was defined. Richie embodied these sentiments and inspired these ideas in his time with the SBGSL. “He had so much passion and dedication in Southie softball and truly put [in] every second of free time he had to work with his team. He took pride in all of his players” says Rose Carey who played for Richie for several years.
Richie always found way to make learning exciting and interesting for players when teaching the fundamentals of softball. Natalie Markarian explains, “he taught us how to slide with laminated posters and he always had games set up in practice when he became our coach. He always joked around with the team and he was super fun to be around all the time.” A fair man, Richie made sure to include everyone in the fun of the game including players new and old. “[He] always made sure to get the ‘non star players’ involved and loved the game of softball. He was my coach for 5 years…[he] always brought a smile” says Emma Carney, another of Richie’s former players.
Carney points out that softball combined two of the things Richie loved most in his life, coaching the game and his daughter, Kayla. “They were literally best friends,” Carney explains, showing some of her old team photos that included Richie and Kayla together. Richie was an involved parent from the get-go. Markarian describes the development of Richie’s volunteer career with the SBGSL. “I have been playing softball since I was eight years old and right from the start Richie Mallard was there as a supporter. Richie was at all of the games that we played. Although he was not a coach [at the time] he acted like one – always correcting the girls and helping them become better softball players.” This commitment garnered respect from parents and players alike, and Richie soon became one of the most beloved members of the SBGSL family.
His guiding principles were more than just words of wisdom; they resulted in the tangible accomplishments of his players and mentees. Mayor’s Cup awards and SBGSL championships were representations of his success as a coach and a mentor. At the presentation of the 14U Richie Mallard Memorial Trophy to the division champions on Friday June 24th, Richie’s daughter Kayla told of how accomplished her dad’s coaching career had been, citing that she can’t recall that he’d ever lost a championship. For his players, the knowledge, love, and commitment Richie demonstrated are the real trophies. Carey says that “[Richie] was just an all-around amazing person and coach.” And Markarian remarks that he “is [her] inspiration and [she is] dedicating [her] season to him.”
On an afternoon in early spring of 2015, Richie Mallard left a voicemail for then SBGSL President and Maverick Corporation CEO Mike McNally asking if he could be late to his first day of work because he intended to coach winter clinics at the PAL gym. “This was his commitment to the girls of South Boston” says McNally. He explains, “Richie epitomized the spirit of the South Boston Girls’ Softball League. His unselfish commitment and energy to teaching the young women of South Boston…was admired by all.” Hours later Richie was involved in an accident that resulted in a debilitating brain injury. On June 17, 2016, Richie passed away. His legacy continues. Carney states that “Richie was just such a fighter and an amazing guy who just wanted to help girls love the game of softball and he will NEVER be forgotten. He will forever be one of the best coaches…” And this opinion is quite obviously shared by many. “Thank you so much Richie for all that you have given to me’” Markarian exclaims, “you truly are extraordinary.”