When then Oakland City College administrator Lee Ayers visited Flint, Mich., in 1968 for the purpose of recruiting students, he couldn’t have imagined the effect he would have on the now Oakland City University’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Lee persuaded dad to come to Oakland City,” said Matt Malin, whose late father Ron Malin will be inducted into the OCU Athletic Hall of Fame during the January 11 noon banquet in the Bower-Suhrheinrich Student Life Center.
Ron Malin not only enrolled, he played No. 1 singles in tennis for two years en route to 1972 graduation, he went unbeaten in 17 matches one season, including wins against the University of Evansville and Kentucky Wesleyan. While playing tennis he also served as head coach. Returning to OCU in 1978, he served as director of special services, directed intramurals, and served as OCU’s athletic representative to the NCAA, NAIA and National Christian College Athletic Association until, at age 58, he passed away on Oct. 1, 2000.
He’ll be inducted along with track star Milt Clayton; basketball player Clint Weddle; Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer Hugh Schaefer, who did not play the sport in college but became a high school coach and is best known as an Indiana basketball historian; and the late Charlie Trafton, who in 1981 coached the Mighty Oaks to the National Little College Athletic Association championship.
“All five of the inductees were good people. I’m happy for all of them and their families,” said Matt Malin, former Wood Memorial sports standout who played basketball for the now OCU in the late-1980s, later coached Wood Memorial boys, and now is Oakland City Elementary School principal and pastor of Salem United Methodist Church in Mackey.
“Dad really cared about the students during his time on the college faculty. He helped them any way he could, and in turn he was very well liked.”
It wasn’t the career the son of Esco Malin and Nadine Malin expected when he graduated from Flint’s Beecher High School in 1959.
“Dad went to work at a Buick plant. A few years later he decided he’d like to become a pastor, just like his dad and his father-in-law Floyd Miley,” said Matt Malin, whose mother, the former Carolyn Miley, passed away last May 9.
“My dad never played tennis in high school. He played basketball as a guard, football as a running back, and track as a sprinter. He didn’t play tennis until his two years at Flint Junior College.
“By then, he’d met Lee Ayers and decided to eventually enter Oakland City, then the nation’s only General Baptist College.
“I was born in Flint and we moved back there in 1974. My early grade school years were in Flint, until we moved to Oakland City in 1978, “ said the husband of the former Lori Pflug.
”You know, Lee Ayers is the grandfather of Nick Powers, who married our youngest daughter Whitney. On their wedding day (when Rev. Matt Malin conducted the ceremony), I told Nick how special it is that he was marrying the granddaughter of the man who recruited dad to Oakland City.”
Former Wood Memorial athletes Nick and Whitney Malin Powers, who as a freshman started on the Lady Trojans’ 2007 Class A state tournament runnerup basketball team, later played hoops for Oakland City University and now is Wood Memorial girls assistant coach, have given Matt and Lori a granddaughter, 20-months-old Renlee.
Matt and Lori’s oldest daughter Lindsey and her husband Jason Finke, residing in the St,. Philip neighborhood on Evansville’s west side, have presented grandsons Jhett (21 months) and Krew (1 month).
“All our living family will be at the induction banquet,” said Matt Malin.
“My sister Amy and her husband Lezeric Fallen, their oldest son Beau who is 21; and their 12-year-old twins, Zech and his sister Faith. And Amy’s stepdaughter Gabby.
“Mom’s dad Floyd Miley and his wife Thelma will make the trip to see dad honored. Lori’s parents, Gene and Jeanne Pflug of Oakland City, will be there.
“Dad’s father Esco followed mom’s dad as the pastor at Hopewell General Baptist Church in Flint.
“We’re excited for dad and for all the inductees.”