CHAMBLEE - Father's Day came a little early for the Maloof family this year, only, it wasn't just family patriarch George Maloof that received the present.
The entire Maloof family - including current Gwinnett high school coaching sons Kevin and Keith Maloof - shared in the joy of the 79-year-old former St. Pius X football coach joining five of his colleagues as 2009 inductees to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame earlier this month.
"This has to rank up there (near the top)," George Maloof said when asked where his induction ranked among his career highlights. "I never dreamed of anything like this. ... It's awesome."
The GACA's Hall of Fame committee thought Maloof's career was also awesome enough to be part of this year's induction class, joining former Winder-Barrow and Truetlen County basketball, track and cross country coach Cook Holliday, plus Jim Hughes, Larry Gaither, Calvin "Monk" Jones and Graham Woodell.
Maloof led the St. Pius program to a 162-83-12 record and five postseason appearances - three of which were state playoff berths, including the 1968 Class AA state championship - in his 26 seasons as coach of the Golden Lions.
Those accomplishments led the DeKalb private school to name the field at its football stadium after Maloof more than a decade ago.
More important, however, was the number of his players' lives he impacted in that time, including his sons, both of whom played for him at St. Pius and took a lot of what they learned from him and applied it to their own coaching careers.
"Just the way he treated people and the relationship he had with his players," said Dacula coach Kevin Maloof, who is just one win away from matching George's career total, when asked what he learned most from his father. "The fact that so many of his former players are there when he has an opportunity to receive an award, it's just a testament to how much he meant to so many people."
Still, it's doubtful George Maloof has meant more to anyone than to his family - especially his sons.
That was no more evident than when he joined Keith as an assistant on Kevin's staff when he became head coach at Meadowcreek in 1986.
As much as his experiences at St. Pius - especially the state title in 1968 - meant to him, that time at Meadowcreek was just as memorable and enjoyable time for the elder Maloof.
"It was just an awesome time," George Maloof recalled. "I kind of had to fight myself to stay out of their way. I didn't want to get in their hair too much.
"What I'm (most) proud of these boys is they walk in their own shoes. They used some of my ideas, but they have their own tone to them."
Far from interfering, both of Maloof's sons found the time they spent together on the same staff to be both enjoyable and beneficial.
In fact, Keith said the lessons he learned in those years proved very valuable when he began his own career as a head coach - first at Tucker and the last 10 seasons at Norcross.
"We didn't see each other every day," said Keith Maloof, who needs just seven more wins to reach 100 for his career. "But you were able to walk by and say, 'Hello, how's the day going?'
"Starting my career off, working (with) both (George and Kevin), it was pretty awesome for me. It helped me with my career, establishing some things I wanted to do. ... I was able to bounce ideas off them. As a young coach coming in, ... wherever (they) went, I went to learn. We'd talk about defense. We'd talk about certain offenses. Even now, we talk about how we can get the tight end more involved because that was basically in (George's) offense. ... It's very helpful."
Age and health problems - he's survived three bouts with cancer - have made it more difficult for George Maloof to get a first-hand look at his sons' teams.
Still, whenever he can, he finds himself in a stadium on Friday nights during the fall - more often at Norcross these days because of its close proximity to his Chamblee home and with one grandson (Tyler) having recently finished his high school career and another (Tanner) getting ready to begin to play for the Blue Devils.
"I'm lucky to get to ride on the track at St. Pius or at Kevin's field or at Keith's field," George Maloof said. "When I feel comfortable enough, I go to as many games as I can."
Fortunately, he was feeling well enough to attend the induction ceremony June 6 in Dalton and share the moment with his wife, Anita, his sons, his daughters - Karen Rackley and Kathy Kieffer - and his five grandchildren.
It was a night none of the Maloofs will soon forget.
"I just think it's a great honor for him and well-deserved of what he's done with his career," Keith Maloof said. "He's ... well-respected throughout the state and we're very proud of him."
SideBar: The Maloof File
· Name: George Maloof
· What: 2009 Inductee to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame
· Former position: Head Football Coach, St. Pius X High School
· Age: 79
· Career record: 162-83-12
· Background: Coached at St. Pius X for 26 years, guiding the Golden Lions to 18 winning seasons and five postseason appearances, including the 1968 Class AA state championship, the 1965 Class AA state runner-up and another state semifinal appearance
· Family: Wife Anita; sons Kevin Maloof, head coach at Dacula High, and Keith Maloof, head coach at Norcross High; daughters Karen Maloof-Rackley and Kathy Maloof-Kieffer; five grandchildren