Efren Malagon loves to help people. He is the Equipment Specialist Manager for Saddleback College. He is a past Saddleback student who used to volunteer as a Student Athletic Trainer in his youth. He is also a retired Fire fighter from Station 29 in Capistrano Beach.
Malagon begins his day at seven in the morning by opening up the Men’s Lockers and Equipment Room. His team consists of fellow Equipment Specialist, Jim Fagan and several Developmantally Delayed Students who provide fresh uniforms to student athletes daily. Malagone’s most faithful student volunteer is Erik Knopick, but everybody knows him as ‘Coach’. “I help out by cleaning all of the towels. My friends are all here with me, it’s nice”, Knopick said.
Malagon takes off his black shades revealing his kind grey- blue eyes. His copper toned face is weathered and chapped. “My kids just want to help out. It would be tough without them around”, Malagon said. He is well aware of the demanding academic and game schedules his student athletes face. “We want to help students by providing them with fresly cleaned uniforms, towels and anything they don’t have time for in order to keep their grades up”, Malagon said. Malagon and his team arrive at every game or practice two hours early to set up the stadium or court with equipment and to make sure the field is clear. After the game is over Malagon and his team of special helpers tear it all down again and leave around eleven pm. “I have worked here for twenty years and the beautiful thing about this job is being part of a big family”, Malagon said. “I never had any kids but every student is like one of my own. We all look out for eachother”.
Malagon grew up on a ranch in Rancho Mission Viejo. He went to Capistrano Valley High School where he played many sports. “When we were younger, we kept out of trouble with sports and horses”, Malagon said. On the weekends you can find Malagon in San Juan Capistrano where he rodeo’s with his two horses.
A man with braces on his legs interrupts and hands Malagon a burrito wrapped in tin foil. “Hey, Efie, should we order those sweatshirts or wait?” The man apologizes for interrupting and introduces himself as Fermin Camarena “I had a stroke years back and I take Adaptive PE here at Saddleback’s Rehab. I bring Malagon lunch all the time. If you were to look up ‘Generous’ in the dictionary you would see his picture there, Camarena said with a genuinely warm smile, squinting and shielding his eyes from the sun. A whistle sounds in the distance and a group of soaking wet swimmers walk out of the pool area. Malagon cuts this interview short so that he could attend to his group of athletes.
He walks off and his steps seem to be in perfect harmony with a Coldplay song resonating from a nearby radio, “Oh all that I know- there’s nothing here to run from. Cause yeah, every body here’s got somebody to lean on”.