Pension laws force Al Mailahn out as Woodbury High School football coach

Woodbury High School’s football team was 31-21 in Al Mailahn’s five years as head coach.
Woodbury High School’s football team was 31-21 in Al Mailahn’s five years as head coach.

Al Mailahn had hoped to coach in retirement, but a snag he discovered in the pension laws has forced him out as Woodbury’s football coach.

Mailahn, 59, confirmed on Friday that there is no chance that he can coach this year.

“I had two attorneys look at it and I won’t be able to coach this year,” Mailahn said in a phone interview Friday morning after returning from a cruise.

After 37 years of teaching, Mailahn retired at Haddon Heights at the end of the school year.

He had planned to continue serving as the head coach at Woodbury, but was told he that New Jersey pension laws forced him to wait 30 days after his retirement to begin coaching out of district.

The snag comes because Mailahn says that his retirement is official on Sept. 1, even though he is able to receive his pension immediately.

So he couldn’t work at Woodbury, even on a volunteer basis until Oct. 1 at the earliest.

“I was told I should have retired in January, but that would hurt my students,” Mailahn said. “This rule negatively affects fall coaches.”

Mailahn says that taking legal action wouldn’t be realistic.

“The attorneys who I had look at it said that besides being expensive, by the time a hearing took place the season could be over,” Mailahn said.

Woodbury is in a transition in its athletic deparment. Athletic director Grant Shivers is retiring and Friday was his last day. He will be replaced by Dan Howey, who begins on Monday.

Shivers said on Friday that he posted the football coaching job on Monday.

“We have gotten a few applicants,” he said.

Shivers says it is unfortunate for Mailahn, but that Woodbury had to adhere to the pension rules.

In addition, Woodbury is looking for a new boys’ basketball coach. Shivers said that Mark DiRugeris has resigned after one season. DiRugeris, a former Woodbury star, guided the Thundering Herd to the state Group 1 championship this past season.

Shivers says that the school has received a few applicants for the basketball job.

“I don’t know how widely it is out there,” he said.

Mailahn says that he hopes that his coaching days aren’t over after his one-year hiatus.

“I would like to keep coaching,” Mailahn said. “I don’t know anything different and have been playing and coaching for so long and I hope to continue.”

Woodbury is coming off a 7-3 season and led by rising junior quarterback Andre Parker, the Thundering Herd are expected to be a contender in the West Jersey Football League Memorial Division and South Jersey Group 1.

Mailahn went 31-21 in five years as Woodbury’s head coach. He also was a head coach at Haddon Heights and his overall record is 88-89.