Wendy Malich
If the résumé and list of career recognition for Wendy Malich stopped at her involvement with athletics in Pierce County, it would be an enviable collection of honors and a remarkable demonstration of dedication to athletes, teaching and leadership.
The reach of Malich’s dedication extends far beyond Pierce County, however. Her professional universe is anchored by long-time athletic director duties in the Franklin Pierce School District, but the full orbit of her involvement has been marked by leadership roles at the league, district, and state/WIAA level as well. And she hasn’t let Washington’s border contain her either.
Among athletic administrators, Malich has a national presence. Recently, Malich was awarded one of 11 Bruce D. Whitehead Distinguished Service Awards by the National interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA). This award is granted to professionals across the country in recognition of their length of services, remarkable accomplishments and contributions to athletics at the local, state and national levels. In 2017, she was one of eight high school athletic directors in the country to be awarded a citation at the National Athletic Directors Conference sponsored by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the NIAAA.
For the NIAAA, Malich has served as the Washington state awards chair since 2011 and is on the national faculty for its leadership development institute. For over 15 years, she has taught leadership training classes for the NIAAA. She was recognized with the NIAAA State Award of Merit in 2007.
Having grown up with two parents significantly involved at Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor – her dad, Marco, was the long-time baseball coach and a WIAA Hall of Fame inductee and her mom, Sandi, was the PHS office manager – Malich has the genetics of a leader of young people.
After completing her second bachelor’s degree at Western Washington University in 1986, Malich was hired as a teacher at Washington High School in the Franklin Pierce district. She taught biology and math along with coaching track, volleyball and cheer and working with the school’s leadership and student government. She became the Washington High AD in 1994 and continued to coach as well. She was the Pierce County League girls track coach of the year in 1998. In 2004, when she completed the Certified Athletic Administrator program, she became the district-wide AD combining responsibilities for Washington High and Franklin Pierce High.
As an AD, Malich was the league commissioner for many sports over the years and served as the South Puget Sound League president in 2009-10. She created a Franklin Pierce SD district-wide captain’s council and was the sportsmanship facilitator for 16 schools in the SPSL. Since 2000, Malich has been a member of the Washington Secondary Schools Athletic Administrators Association (WSSAAA) Executive Board. She was the organization’s president in 2006-07. She was chair of the WSSAAA State Conference in 2005-06 and has been a frequent instructor of leadership training courses at the conference.
Between 2000 and 2006, Malich was the Pierce County League AD of the year twice and the Seamount League AD of the year twice. In 2006, she was the West Central District AD of the year and the WSSAAA Washington State Athletic Director of the Year.
Malich is equally involved with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA). She is a 16-year member of the Executive Board and was its president in 2015-2016. She received the WIAA’s Gareth Giles Award for leadership and service at the WIAA Representative Assembly in 2019.
Beyond leadership and administration of the events on the field or court, Malich has championed several initiatives to connect student-athletes to community service, locally and as far away as Nicaragua where she led a group constructing a village well.
Given the depth of commitment to school and leadership endeavors makes it more remarkable that Malich also raised four athletically busy kids as a single mom. Malich has also run a small arts and crafts business and beaten breast cancer along the way.
Before building her résumé as an administrator, Malich was an accomplished athlete. From cheerleading to bodybuilding, she was a multi-talented competitor. She was a four-year letter-winner, and four-time state meet participant, in track at Peninsula High before competing at Western Washington University. Malich was a two-time All-American in the 400-meter hurdles. She broke the WWU record in the event and placed 3rd and 4th in two trips to the NAIA national meet. She was also a WWU cheerleader and was named the university’s female athlete of the year in 1983. She spent some time training as a competitive bodybuilder before returning to WWU to complete her Bachelor’s in Education. In 1996, she added a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from the University of Puget Sound.
2022 Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients