Kelly Tinney - Malm
By CHRIS LARICK
Chuck and Linda Tinney were not parents who believed in pampering their daughters.
Kelly and Kaitlyn would learn to play sports, especially basketball. And they would learn them the proper way.
"When I was a young girl, my parents put a cement pad and basketball hoop in our backyard for my sister and I to practice on,” said Kelly Tinney-Malm, who will be inducted into the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation’s Hall of Fame on Apr. 7. "(For the record, unlike other kids who had an adjustable hoop to play on, my dad refused a hoop like that. It didn't matter how tall I was, I would learn to shoot on a regulation hoop--all these things made a difference in my performance).
"As I grew up, I played basketball with the guys in the neighborhood and my dad. My dad also took me to his weekly basketball games with guys at his work. All the guys did not treat me like I was fragile. They pushed me around and got mad if I scored. I learned quickly how to push back and be tough, playing with those guys.”
Many kids might have rebelled at such tactics. The Tinney girls throve on them, recognizing Chuck Tinney for the great athlete he was — and still is, according to Kelly. He also knew how to coach young athletes.
“My dad and I would spend hours in the backyard or at the gym working on basic fundamentals, he showed me drills that I could and did run daily,” Kelly said. "I spent hours a day practicing —I even remember shoveling the basketball court off so I could practice in the winter.
" I'd practice the skills my dad showed me, things like dribbling and shooting left-handed, shooting with your elbow in, ball above the head, left hand as a guide or faking and taking the baseline. I'd practice myself, practice against my dad and then show my mom what I could do.”
Watching her niece, Ella, play basketball recently, Tinney was reminded of how her dad taught her when she was her niece’s age.
"She is in eighth grade and the vast majority of the team are still afraid of the ball. When I was young, I remember my dad taking me to play basketball with his group of his guys at work. He told me, 'You will catch every ball I or one of these guys throw at you.’
"They threw hard passes, but I learned to go to the ball and catch everything that was thrown at me. It may sound simple, but you would be surprised how important these fundamental are."
As Tinney-Malm, a 2003 St. John and Paul graduate, remembers, the lessons she learned didn’t go unnoticed in the St. John and Paul community, a school she says she was blessed to attend.
"I doubt that he remembers this, but when I was in junior high, Sheriff Billy Johnson (who also happens to be my family life-long neighbor) was the head boys’ basketball coach at SJP.,” Tinney-Malm said. "After everyone's seasons had wrapped up, there was an awards banquet at our school.
"While he was delivering awards to the boys on his team, he asked me stand up. He said, 'Gentlemen, my word of advice for you is to practice the way that girl does. I watch her every day, snow, rain, shine practicing in her backyard. She's out there, in season or off-season, making herself a better player and athlete.’ I was probably embarrassed at the time, but reflecting back, playing basketball was really what my childhood and teen years was about."
Even the best teacher cannot teach a reluctant student much. The Tinneys were willing learners.
Kelly started playing organized sports at a young age and eventually became the linchpin — a 5-foot-11 forward and off-guard on a St. John and Paul High School team that had been mired in the depths of losing for years and became a winner.
Tinney-Malm also played some point guard.
“You could pretty much find me doing whatever the team needed, including point guard,” she said.
"I do remember the SJP basketball team becoming a winning team, conference champions and competitors with all schools in the area,” she said. “It was a true accomplishment, as SJP had, in the recent years, not been a winning team.”
People took notice. Fans started going to games they previously avoided like the plague. The Heralds drew more interest from the Star Beacon. Kelly’s sister, Kaitlyn, joined her as a starter and key contributor when she was a freshman, during Kelly’s senior year. “It was the best year of my sports career, having my sister start with me on the volleyball and basketball courts. By all accounts, she is the better athlete of the two of us,” said Tinney-Malm.
SJP was coached at the time — and still is — by Nick Iarocci.
"He was always positive,” Tinney-Malm said. “You could tell that he believed in the team and he believed in SJP. I remember him being excited when I joined the team and he put significant faith in my ability. Reflecting, it was a large part of how I walked on to the court each game, knowing I needed to lead the team.”
Even then, though, she was being coached every day by someone without the formal title.
"My parents sacrificed a lot so I could play,” Tinney-Malm said. "Despite the coaches I had, my dad was the one coach who provided me with a strong foundation of fundamentals. He, along with my mom, watched every game, and most times practice as well, and every time my dad found at least one thing I needed to work on — and trust me, we worked on it. It didn't matter if I scored 30 points that game— there was something I could do better. My mom’s role in the equation was to tell me to be tough, and if I wanted to be the best, I had to work harder than anyone else. That’s important because there were times when I cried or was frustrated and could have walked away.”
As already indicated, the Heralds became a competitive team during Tinney-Malm’s years.
"There were a lot of great games that come to mind,” Tinney said. "I remember games where our team was not suppose to win or hadn't beat that particular team in years, and we'd win.
"Maybe the most special game was the game where I scored my 1,000th point. It was against Edgewood High School. I remember getting the assist from my sister. When I scored, the ref stopped the game and handed me the ball to take to my parents, who were both (of course) sitting in the stands.
"That game and scoring that 1,000th point was not about me,” she said. “ It was really about my parents, who had sacrificed so much for me to be the player I was. They never missed a game; they paid extra money for me to play on traveling teams, to go to camps, to have the right equipment. My mom (Linda) cooked an incredible about of food for whatever team I was on. Not to mention the countless hours my dad spent with my in our backyard or at the gym. Scoring that 1,000th point was really about them. I sometimes wonder how I got so lucky in my parents or if parents like them still exist.”
At SJP, Tinney became a starter in both volleyball and tennis (on the boys team, there was no Heralds’ girls team at the time). In basketball, she scored 1,036 points and was first-team All-Ashtabula County and Player of the Year in the conference two of the four years. In volleyball, she made all-conference Player of the Year three of those years and All-Ashtabula County Player of the Year two of the four years. She also played first singles on the tennis team from her sophomore to senior year.
She was recruited for college volleyball, basketball and tennis teams.
"But I ultimately went to college to get an education, to do my best and achieve a successful career,” she said. "Having the opportunity to play sports was simply an added bonus.”
With that in mind, she decided on Grove City College in Grove City, Pa.
"My college selection was largely based on receiving the best possible education and ensuring I could easily attain a job upon graduation. I played volleyball in college, but wish I would have continued onward with playing tennis or basketball in college. My volleyball experience was not a positive one. The college coach at GCC was a negative person, one whom I decided I could no longer play for.”
Graduating with a B.S. in Accounting from Grove City , she sat for and passed the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam. In the summer of my junior year she had interned with PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP (PWC) in the audit practice.
“I accepted a full -time position with them and started with PwC in September of 2007,” she said. "Working in audit, I specialize in the energy industry and work with large public corporations on their quarterly and annual public SEC filings. I am also part of our Firm’s National Quality Organization, which assists various engagement teams with challenging audit methodology.”
Tinney-Malm started her career in Pittsburgh and transferred to Denver in 2011.
"I've now been with PwC for over 11 years and am a Senior Manager with the Firm,” she said. "For the record, although I am a CPA. I know very little about income taxes. The audit team is responsible for providing assurance on the company's financial statements as a whole.
“I am married to a wonderful man — Josh Malm. I met Josh about eight years ago when I transferred to Denver from Pittsburgh with PwC. I met Josh my first day in the Denver office. He claims I winked at him—I let him believe that. A year-and-a-half later we were engaged and 11 months after that we were married.
"We have three dogs (Carver, Lullabelle and Gus-gus) — all rescued from a Humane Society or rescue group. We don't have human children. Denver is a fantastic place to live. Josh and I enjoy hiking, Josh is an avid gardener and every chance we get we head to Napa and Sonoma to take in more of wine country. We are really blessed!”
Tinney-Malm occasionally plays tennis still. Since wrapping up her basketball and volleyball careers, she has become an avid runner, running five full marathons, including qualifying for the Boston Marathon, and15 half-marathons.
" I don't run as often anymore because of the wear and tear on my knees, but I workout daily, and I consider it 'me time,’ she said.
For his part, Josh, a Colorado native, enjoys coming to Ashtabula and fishing for walleye and perch on Chuck’s boat. “Coming back to Ashtabula every summer is something we both look forward to. Over the years, my dad has spent a lot of time with ‘his girls.’ I know he would never change that, but my dad and my husband love hanging out on Lake Erie together with all their friends.”
She considers her time in Ashtabula "an experience I always reflect on with admiration. I love the town, the people who supported me, our team and our school. I could not have grown up in a better place. There really isn't too much like it, nowadays. “