When Curtis Malmanger first started coaching, his intent was simple—to be faithful at his task. Through the years, however, this diligent and detail-minded coach has affected hundreds of athletes and coaches through his “style of play,” and now retires from the realm of football after 25 fruitful years at Maranatha.
In his earliest years, Malmanger got involved in coaching while teaching in the small town of Menahga, in Northern Minnesota, where he was issued a challenge by a Christian coach.
As Malmanger recalls it, “In my first year of teaching at the high school level, I was challenged to coach as a way to share Christ with the athletes I interacted with, and I viewed it as an opportunity to work with them outside of the classroom.”
Four years later, Malmanger continued that path with a move to another small town in Minnesota— Owatonna, where he taught mathematics at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College.
While at Pillsbury, Malmanger met Terry Price, who he replaced as men’s dorm supervisor. The two bonded through 10 years of coaching together before both made the move to the campus of Maranatha Baptist Bible College in Watertown, Wisconsin.
Price stated, “Curt has been a good friend, great assistant coach, and helper to me, and a wonderfully faithful husband, dad, colleague, teacher, coach and church member.”
Malmanger and Price embarked on a ministry at Maranatha that included an appearance at the NCCAA Victory Bowl in Canton, Ohio, in 1998; missions trips to France (’95), Ireland (’98), and Israel (’12); and 11 consecutive winning seasons (1988-1998).
Price’s son, Phil, recalls a game against Northwestern College of St. Paul, MN, in 1988 that turned out to be pivotal in kick-starting the consecutive winning-seasons streak:
“Throughout the game, the PA announcer, in response to a Northwestern first down, would yell, ‘and that’s another Northwestern…’ and the crowd responded with, ‘FIRST DOWN!’ Well, at the end of the game, we led 30-27 and converted a crucial first down to run out the clock. Dr. Malmanger turned to a section of Crusader fans and yelled, ‘and that’s another Maranatha…’ with the Maranatha fans responding in like fashion, ‘FIRST DOWN!’ It was the first time we had defeated Northwestern in over 10 years.”
In addition to being the team’s defensive coordinator and line coach, Malmanger developed three distinguishable skill-sets that proved valuable to Price and the team.
One was the ability to keep things tidy. “He was such a great organizer and master packer, especially when it came to transporting all of our road gear on football trips. He demonstrated a servant attitude and heart while issuing, fixing, collecting and storing our football equipment,” pointed out (Terry) Price.
The second was the ability to serve as the team’s motivational speaker. “Doc Mal would often yell, ‘BLOOD, BLOOD, BLOOD makes the grass grow!’ or, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive!’ when he was trying to motivate players to hit harder,” said (Phil) Price.
Perhaps his most valuable attribute, however, and the one that kept surfacing through the years, was his simple faithfulness—faithfulness in helping Clayton Morrison coach softball for eight years, or fixing broken football helmets.
“Doc has always been a behind-the-scenes guy who did things professionally and in an orderly way. I don’t think the athletes who come in get a full picture of what he does. He just serves them,” stated current head coach Andy Peterson.
Malmanger, who will continue to teach at Maranatha in Mathematics Education, plans to spend some of his free time fishing with family and relatives; but he has reserved a spot, this time in the stands, from which to watch Maranatha’s home games throughout the 2013 season.
He also, in simple fashion, summed up his desire to minister to others by staying connected, stating, “It has always been good to maintain friendships with previous players and coaches. I’ve always had an interest in those who are staying true and faithful in serving the Lord.”