Lisa DeVite Malutic has been referred to by a lot of names over the years.
Friends and teammates have given her nicknames like “The Cool Cucumber,” “Fast Feet DeVite” or “The Tasmanian Devil.”
Soon, the former Mohawk High standout in basketball and track can add a new moniker to her list “Hall of Famer.”
“You don’t think of yourself as a great athlete,” said Malutic, who works for United Healthcare Insurance. “I went out there to play basketball and do my best in track. I wasn’t out there for stardom or anything like that. It’s an honor to feel that I accomplished this. Looking back, yeah I accomplished a lot. When you’re doing it, you’re young and you don’t think about those kind of things.”
ENTERING THE HALL
The 49-year-old Edinburg resident will join 11 other inductees on May 4 when they enter the Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the New Englander.
“She was very, very good and was an exceptional athlete.” former Lady Warriors basketball coach Alberta Kelly said.
Malutic will join former basketball teammates Lori Haswell Stelter and Jawcie Vrabel in the hall of fame.
“There were three of us on that team that will be in the hall of fame,” the newest hall of famer said. “We meshed so well together. We didn’t care who got the fame. We didn’t care who got their picture in the paper. All we cared about was winning the game and that’s how we played.”
After moving into the varsity starting lineup as a junior, Malutic guided the Lady Warriors to a 52-4 record and back-to-back No. 2 rankings in the WPIAL.
“That’s nothing to sneeze at,” she said. “The only games we lost my junior year were to Brentwood, who went on to win the championship. Both games we lost my senior year were to North Catholic. I tried to get my teammates into the game more. I was gung-ho. I was trying to get them to shoot the ball more.”
Malutic, then a senior, helped erase some bad memories when she sank both ends of a one-and-one in the closing seconds to lift Mohawk to a 62-60 win over defending state champion Brentwood.
“They were the defending state champs and we were up by 10 points on them at one point in the first quarter,” Kelly said. “At the end of the game, Brentwood’s coach called a timeout and the kids came to the bench. I said ‘When Lisa makes the second foul shot ....’ and off they go. My assistant turned to me and said ‘You didn’t tell them what to do if she misses it.’ I said ‘She won’t’ and thank God she didn’t.”
Malutic’s biggest attributes on the court were her speed and her smarts.
“I coached for a long time, saw a lot of girls and saw a lot of playoff games for other teams,” Kelly said. “Lisa is the fastest girl with a basketball I ever saw. She was extremely fast and she was so smart. She was a good girl with a good attitude.”
She also was a hard worker.
“I’ve told this story about Lisa before and it’s true,” Kelly said. “If she’d miss a layup in practice or during a scrimmage, she’d get so upset about it that she’d go to the auxiliary gym and wouldn’t come back until she made 100 layups in a row. People’d say that’d be a half hour or that’d be until the end of practice. Nope, she’d be back in a few minutes.”
That hard work and drive were extremely beneficial on the floor.
“Her biggest concern was getting the ball to the person in the best position to score,” Kelly said. “She always kept herself in position to go get the ball if someone got stuck. She could break any play and go get the ball.
“They were so good and so in tune with each other that they knew where the other person was going to be. Our drills were about getting down the court with the least amount of dribbles. Lisa was very, very concerned about doing whatever was necessary for the team to win.”
Malutic etched her name in the record books in track.
She set the school’s 800-meter mark (2:24.9), the 1600 relay record (4:01) and the 3200 relay standard of 10:06 in 1980. The 3200 relay time stood until 2005.
“It’s crazy that I still hold them,” Malutic said. “It’s amazing that they can stand for that long. We conditioned a lot. Mr. (Dave) Bredl made sure we were conditioned. We worked hard. It wasn’t all fun and games. We were very disciplined. If you want something, you have to work hard for it.”
The hard work paid off when Malutic and her teammates on the 1600-meter relay advanced to the state championship meet during her freshman, sophomore and senior years.
“I was very nervous,” Malutic said of her first trip to the state championship meet. “The two seniors calmed us down and took us under their wing. They told us to go out and have fun. That’s all it was all about. We wanted to go out and win, but we went out to have fun.”
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN
Despite all her successes in high school, the 1983 Mohawk graduate didn’t continue her athletic career in college.
“I had offers,” said Malutic, who pursued a career in nursing. “Slippery Rock wanted me for track. I could have gone to Geneva for basketball, but my mom and dad just weren’t into college. I wanted to go see them, but they didn’t so I didn’t go. If I had my choice, I would have played basketball in college.”
A DIFFERENT VIEW
Almost 31 years after graduating from Mohawk, Malutic finds herself back at her alma mater rooting on her son Ricky, a junior on the football, basketball and track teams.
“Because I was so into sports, I find myself being a little harder on him,” she said. “I’m always like ‘What are they doing out there?’ I even it out. I tell him what he did good and I tell him where he needs to improve. If I sit here and tell him that he’s doing a wonderful job and he’s not, he’s going to continue to do what mom thinks is good. If he did bad, I told him what he was doing wrong.”
MONDAY: Angelo Burrelli