Garrett Maloney isn’t your typical college athlete. He doesn’t focus on just one sport at St. Thomas (Minn.) — he plays two — and as insane as the concept is of juggling the demands of college football and basketball with academics, Maloney wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I came to St. Thomas because I would get the chance to play both sports,” Maloney said. “My friends back home ask me all of the time how I can handle both, and I just tell them that I’m having fun. Both teams are successful and I get a chance to contribute to the success.”
Maloney had Division I scholarship offers in football coming out of Marquette High School in Wisconsin where he played tight end. But he didn’t want to focus only on football and talked with the coaches at St. Thomas about his desire to play football and basketball in college.
The coaches didn’t have a problem with it and the rest is history. Maloney is averaging 42.2 yards per punt for the unbeaten (9-0) and the nationally-ranked Tommies (No. 3 in the nation). He is also a backup center on the men’s basketball team, which won the NCAA Division III national championship in March.
|The Maloney File|
|• Two-time MIAC Special Teams Player of the Week|
|• Back-up center on DIII national championship basketball team|
|• Majoring in Business|
|• From Elm Grove, Wis.|
Maloney played in 10 games for a Tommies team that finished 30-3 and defeated Wooster 78-54 in the title game.
His ability to play and excel in both sports has left quite an impression on head football coach Glenn Caruso.
“He is an amazing weapon for us on the field, but I feel that is a tremendously well-rounded man off of it,” Caruso said. “For him to be able to balance the rigors of his studies along with two highly competitive sport programs is a testament to both his focus and effort.”
As far as first-year head men’s basketball coach Johnny Tauer is concerned, Maloney is what DIII sports is all about.
“His contributions go far beyond those evident in the box scores,” Tauer said. “He is a tough-minded, physical and unselfish player who is an outstanding teammate. He does all of the little things that make teams successful, setting screens, passing, rebounding and getting loose balls. We feel fortunate to have him at St. Thomas.”
Maloney appreciates the fact that his coaches are so understanding.
“They deserve a lot of credit for helping me make this happen,” Maloney said. “They are lenient and I appreciate the fact that they are so accepting to me playing two sports.”
Maloney has to literally be on top of his game to manage his demanding schedule. Free time is limited. A typical day during the fall semester consists of going to class before heading off to football practice.
Once practice ends, Maloney jets over to the gym to work on his basketball skills.
“The fall semester is always the toughest because football usually lasts until December and then I join the basketball team again,” Maloney said. “I always use some of my free time after football to shoot around in the gym. I’ll head over to the library after that and do my homework until around midnight. It can be tough to deal with everything, but I don’t mind. I’m having a lot of fun.”
Time management has been the key for Maloney, and the fact that he is an athlete in two sports keeps him focused on sticking with a schedule.
“I know what I have to do everyday to make this work,” Maloney said. “I know that if I don’t work on my school stuff when I’m scheduled to, I’m not getting that time back. It takes a lot of focus and a lot of hard work, but I’ve managed to handle everything.”
One of the biggest challenges for Maloney is making the switch from football to hoops. The change can take its toll from a physical standpoint, at least at the beginning.
“It does take awhile to get your legs back,” Maloney said. “One of the biggest challenges is going from playing an outdoor sport to an indoor sport. It can be tough on your legs, but I just keep working hard and eventually I get back my legs back for basketball.”
In terms of preparation for both sports, though, Maloney has always been on top of his game. He worked with a punting coach in the offseason after averaging 38.5 yards per punt a year ago. He also spends a lot of time sharpening his basketball skills and is hoping to play a more prominent role on the team this year.
“I’m always working to improve in both sports,” Maloney said. “I always want to give my best effort in everything I do.”
Maloney is looking forward to helping the Tommies make a run in the football playoffs later this month and is excited about playing a role in the basketball team’s quest to repeat as national champions.
“I’ve had a pretty good run with both teams so far in my career,” Maloney said. “It’s great that I get a chance to play for two winning teams and I’m definitely enjoying the experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”