Dominique Maloy needs very little time to infuse anyone within earshot with her energy, enthusiasm and optimism. So imagine how 11-year-old Dane Clayton felt after getting a full hour of one-on-one instruction with the former track and field All-American.
Maloy brought her “A Youth Sports Experience” back to Pahrump Valley High School over the weekend, the first of three weekends the 15-time state high school champion will be spending with young athletes at her alma mater. While earlier sessions Saturday drew more kids, Clayton had Maloy’s unique brand of positive energy all to himself.
“Her personality is really great,” Clayton said. “She motivates me and makes everything fun.”
If Maloy was disappointed conflicting events, cold and wind had on attendance, it did not show for a second during her hour with Clayton.
“He did really well,” Maloy said. “I’ve only had the pleasure of working with him for the past two days, but I’m already seeing a transition and a difference in his comfort with his body, his confidence and the way he can take criticism.
“I know sometimes for me as a kid I felt rejected or like they were attacking me, but he took it and literally like the next second is doing exactly what I said. That is a perfect quality for an athlete and a coach.”
Maloy repeatedly noted how well Clayton took to instruction.
“He’s so coachable, and he’s absorbing everything,” she said after the session. “If I told him something was wrong, he was just like, ‘How can I do better?’ He accepted the challenge and kept rising above it.”
That young Clayton is coachable was no surprise. Dane’s father is Pahrump Valley football coach Joe Clayton, who enjoyed watching Maloy put his young son through his paces.
“She’s pretty amazing, isn’t she?” Clayton said as Maloy bounced along the turf, leading the younger Clayton in a drill.
So why was Maloy, who still plays in the Legends Football League this year with the Nashville Knights, out there on a chilly, windy Saturday afternoon tutoring one person on a football field?
“I think there was a time in my life when I felt I needed something like this,” she explained. “So now that I’m more mature, not only in my body as an athlete but more mature as a spirit, I sometimes just see myself in the kids. It’s like my heart is calling, ‘Look, you’ve got to do something.’ And the next thing I know I’m putting together a camp.”
The sheer joy Maloy exhibits while working with the athletes partly stems from the almost spiritual connection she makes with them.
“There’s no past, there’s no present, there’s just here and now,” she said. “When I’m with a kid, there’s no age when I’m in their presence. It feels like only one person is there.
“A blessing was given to me in my athletic ability and my presence, the way I can connect to them. It’s just been an honor to be able to do it and be it with these kids.”
And it’s appreciated on their end. Clayton said he had fun throughout the session, although the hurdles drill was his favorite. Even for a kid, duplicating Maloy’s energy for an hour can be a challenge, but he matched her stride for stride, drill for drill.
“It’s hard to put into words how much fulfillment I get from training with him,” Maloy said. “It’s just awesome being part of it.”
So will Clayton be back for more sessions with Maloy? The answer required no thought.
Contact Sports Editor Tom Rysinski at firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter:@pvtimes
‘A Youth Sports Experience’
Dates: March 23-25 and March 30-April 1
Times: Fourth through eighth grade 5-6 p.m. Fridays, 9-10 a.m. weekends
High school grades 6:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays, 10:30-11:30 a.m. weekends
All ages 5-6 p.m. weekends
Site: Pahrump Valley High School football field and main gym