Hala Corral led the Falcons to the 2019 state championship
A couple of weeks ago, the Corral family gathered in their living room to watch a special sporting event on television.
“We knew the results, but we were on the edge of our seats, watching,” Hala Corral said.
It was the 2019 Class 3A state championship girls basketball game. The Prairie Falcons trailed at the half and would have to rally to win the program’s seventh state title.
They did it.
“We celebrated like we won it again,” said Hala Corral, the team’s coach.
Allison Corral, Hala and Art’s youngest daughter, was the point guard on that team.
“Allie said, ‘We didn’t play very well.’ No, we didn’t but we won and that’s all that mattered,” Hala said.
State championships, Prairie pride, and the Corral name have been huge parts of Southwest Washington girls basketball for years now.
But there will be a change at the top.
Hala Corral, who has put her professional career on hold for years, has accepted a position in Boise, Idaho. Earlier this spring, she resigned as Prairie’s head coach.
“I’ve been with the Prairie program for about 18 years with coaching the youth program and then the high school program,” Corral said. “I’ve had opportunities to move on with my company. I’ve always said no. We wanted to get all three of our kids through Prairie High School. I thought that was important. I put my career on hold.”
Ashley Corral was named a McDonald’s All-American in her stellar career and went on to play at Southern Cal. Heather Corral won a state title in 2012 with the Falcons and played for the University of Washington. Allie won it all with Prairie, and her mom, in 2019. She will be moving with her parents in hopes of attending Boise State University.
Hala has been promoted to a vice president position with Albertsons Companies.
“It was something I couldn’t pass up,” she said.
Before the position opened, though, Corral said she figured she had at least another year with the Prairie program.
“I wanted to see the current juniors get through their senior year,” Corral said. “But then it would turn into wanting to see the current sophomores get through. There’s never really a good time to leave. You gain relationships with the kids, and you don’t want to leave them.”
Her company, though, has been great to work with, and patient. The company has allowed Hala to leave early during the basketball season. The company has understood the time commitment needed to coach.
Oh, and the company supported the program in other ways, too.
After the Falcons won the state title last year, a meeting in the Portland office turned into a celebration party for Corral. The company also donated money to help buy the championship rings for the players.
“I’ve been with the company for almost 33 years. It’s been a great partnership,” Corral said.
Because of the pandemic and school shutdown, Corral had to call Jason Castro, the school’s athletic director, to give him the news.
“Any time you have a coach of Hala’s caliber, those are pretty big shoes to fill,” Castro said. “We have been really lucky to have her. We wish her nothing but the best.
The job has been posted.
“We’ll miss Hala. She did a great job for us. A high-caliber person and coach,” Castro said.
Corral was the head coach for four seasons. The Falcons made it to state in all four campaigns, including two appearances in the Tacoma Dome, and the 2019 state title.
The most difficult part of this transition, Corral said, was having to message her players with the news. She would have preferred to meet with her players in person.
“I sent them a text saying how much I love them and appreciate them,” Corral said. “It was time for me to put my career off hold and move forward. The program will be in good hands. They’ll find a good coach.”
The next generation will build toward winning state championship No. 8.
“I would say tradition, pride, and character,” Corral said of the meaning of Prairie girls basketball. “That’s why it was so important to me to have all three of my kids go through Prairie High School and play for Prairie High School. It sets a good foundation for their future.
“It’s a commitment. It’s not for the fair-weather athlete. The expectations are high. The demands are high. You have to be willing to put in the work to make it four years.”