Mike Malpass, a beloved paraeducator and boys and girls soccer coach at Montesano High School, passed away on Monday after a long battle with cancer. He was 51.
Malpass was a frequent presence at the Montesano soccer fields as a coach and skills camp instructor before he took over the Bulldogs’ boys program in 2014.
Later in the year, he was named head girls soccer coach and led the girls team to three state 1A tournament appearances and three Evergreen League titles.
Away from the soccer pitch, Malpass was a diligent and well-respected paraeducator who worked with special needs students in the Montesano School District.
“His absence will be bigger than just the soccer position,” Montesano School District Superintendent Dan Winter said of Malpass. “His job as a paraeducator touched a lot of kids, not only the ones he was working with, but kids in general.”
In October 2015, Malpass fell ill at a team practice and was later diagnosed with a brain tumor, which he had surgery to try and remove days later. Malpass returned to watch the Montesano girls clinch a state berth in the District IV 1A tournament and play against Seattle Academy in the opening round of the state 1A tournament.
After the surgery, Malpass underwent chemotherapy to fight the cancer, a fight he battled to the very end. On the soccer pitch, assistant coaches Rick Denholm and Fidel Sanchez helped Malpass coach the girls and boys teams during the 2015-16 girls season and the 2016 boys and girls seasons.
“He enjoyed soccer very much and he also enjoyed the kids that he worked with,” Denholm said. “He worked with special needs kids and they really enjoyed him being around. I think some of those kids really grew because of him and his personality and opened up a little bit more.
“He enjoyed people and being around them and really enjoyed coaching soccer,” Denholm added. “That is one thing he really wanted to do more than anything was to coach the girls this year and coach his son, Michael, for one more year. He always told me, even when he was sick, you need to keep on going.”
Malpass grew up in Southampton, England, where he played on youth and city teams and for the U.S. Army. He coached in England, Egypt and Germany before coming back to the U.S. for the second time in 2012. He lived in Shelton with his wife Heather, and son, Michael.
His accent, sense of humor and his friendly approach made him a very popular person in Montesano, both on and off the soccer fields.
“He used to tease me about being from Canada, which I’m not, and so I would tease him about being from Scotland, which he is not,” Winter added. “So we always had that back and forth. He was always good to joke with and always had a smile on his face. He will definitely be missed.”
“His English accent would draw you to him, but his personality was he was friends with everybody,” Denholm said. “At times, his cancer affected that and he wasn’t as happy and joyful all the time. He really enjoyed people. He will definitely be missed and some of my philosophies from now on will be because of him.”
Funeral services have not been determined at this time.