HOLMDEL, N.J. – No one will ever question Elia Malara’s resiliency.
Then again, not everyone has endured a whirlwind of chaos over the last couple years as Malara has gone through.
There was the right ACL injury that robbed Malara of his 2017 high school boys basketball season at St. John Vianney. He didn’t get cleared to play again until last July and was ready to have a breakout season this year for the Lancers, only to be hobbled by a torn left labrum.
But for Malara, 18, the ordeal with injuries was relatively insignificant compared to the loss he suffered last Christmas.
LOSING A LOVED ONE
Malara’s father, Elia Sr., passed away at the age of 59 on Dec. 26, 2017, the day after he suffered a heart attack at home on Christmas morning surrounded by his wife and several of his four children. He was a property manager for condos and co-ops in Brooklyn.
“It was a very traumatic day for us all,” said Elia Malara, who learned CPR in a high school class, and followed instructions from a 911 operator to try and revive his father. “I just remember everyone, the police officers and the paramedics coming in and out and then going to the hospital.”
THE HEALING PROCESS
St. John Vianney boys basketball coach Ryan Finch said he had known Elia Malara for many years because he played in the many AAU camps that Finch ran for the Neptune-based Hoop Group.
Finch got the St. John Vianney boys basketball job in 2016 and Malara transferred from Marlboro to St. John Vianney that school year,
“I didn’t know he transferred to St. John Vianney until the day of my interview and I saw him in the hallway,” Finch said. “Unfortunately, he tore his (right) ACL about two weeks before the 2016-2017 season and missed that entire basketball season.”
Malara’s bond with his teammates grew. They turned out en masse to his father’s funeral.
“I had no clue they were coming and that meant a lot to me to have them there. I had my team, family and friends to support me,” Malara said. “I had taken the week off after my father died. I took it day by day. I didn’t look too far forward in the future. I tried not to dwell too much on it. My best memories of my dad are him watching me play basketball and going up to him after the game and listening to him tell me how I did.”