Kristi Maley has been synonymous with The Dalles High School cheerleading and dance for two decades.
Maley has won championships or had teams in contention in that span, with hard work and dedication as her focal points for success over the years.
Just a month after The Dalles Flyte Dance and Cheer team won a state championship, Maley decided to resign from her position as coach and instructor.
Although she is walking off into the proverbial sunset, Maley still plans to continue teaching dance at her studio at The Dalles Fitness and Court Club in The Dalles.
“I have coached 20 years and it takes up so much time, that is why I am resigning,” Maley said.
Maley started her coaching career when she moved back from Seattle in 1995.
In two of her first three seasons as cheer coach, Maley’s teams placed second at state.
From 1998 until 2008, The Dalles won 11 cheerleading championships in a row.
In 2009, TD ended up in second place, and then she decided to move her focus on dance and drill.
For the first three seasons, TD did not win any awards, but in 2013 and 2014, picked up consecutive third-place awards.
Finally, in her final season, The Dalles Flyte Dance and Cheer earned its first state championship.
“I am extremely proud that we could win in cheer and move over to dance and drill and win a state championship there to,” Maley said. “I do not think people realize how hard this was. To master two sports and learn everything in both to be that competitive. They are completely different. It is like winning a state championship in basketball and winning one in tennis.”
In 2001, The Dalles’ cheerleading team was ranked third in the nation and placed second and fourth, respectively, in Advanced Stunt groups in that same competition in Anaheim, Calif.
Maley was also named Coach of the Year in 2001 for the state of Oregon and was a finalist for the Most Outstanding Cheerleading coach in the nation in 2008 by the International Cheerleading Federation.
Kelsey Sugg, a TDHS graduate, was a dance and cheer participant under Maley since the age of three and won two state championships in cheer.
This past season, Sugg coached with Maley and soaked up years of knowledge.
“Kristi is a motivational leader, she inspires people to reach deep and achieve accomplishments that some wouldn’t think are possible,” Sugg said. “She taught me to have self-confidence, and she always brought out the best in me. She believed in me and my teammates always. The Dalles has been fortunate to have a coach like her. Kristi will always have a special place in my heart.”
Every year, Maley had several athletes on the cheerleading all-state team, with five girls winning it, two this season. Her stunt groups were always top-3 in the state, winning it most years.
Maley served as a head coach for the Les Schwab Bowl for seven years, was the OSAA cheerleading representative and served on the Oregon Coaches executive board for six years.
She is currently serving as a judge for the Oregon State University cheerleading and dance tryouts.
Trying to replace someone of Maley’s caliber is going to be a tough task for TD athletic director Mike Somnis.
“The Dalles High School is losing and incredible coach in Kristi Maley,” Somnis said. “She has been a mainstay for nearly two decades with our cheerleading and dance programs. Kristi is a tireless worker who demanded the best from her student athletes. Winning a state championship in her final season is a perfect sendoff for a coach who has done so much for our cheer and dance athletes.”
Maley said the secret to the program’s success begins with the dance studio, where the kids start when they are young and train for days, weeks, months and years on end, with an emphasis on picking up challenging techniques.
These kids learned flexibility, strength and performance through dance, and then worked in the studio and in the gym.
Current student and reigning state champion Taylor Sugg expressed strong emotions when thinking of the profound impact Maley had in her life.
“I am so sad to see Kristi go and I wish she could stay just one more year to finish out my high school years, but I understand why she is ready to be done,” Taylor Sugg said.
“I will continue to dance with her as long as I can, because she always pushes me to excel past my own expectations and reach deep for something more. The memories I have made with Kristi will last a lifetime,” she added.
For information on the dance academy, call 541-298-8508 or visit 731 Pomona Street in The Dalles.