Friends and colleagues remembered the late Bel Air High School varsity boys' lacrosse coach Scoop Kelly this week as a man who would do anything he could to help the children in his charge.
John Edward "Scoop" Kelly II spent about 15 years coaching lacrosse players at the high school and youth league level. He started as an assistant coach at Bel Air in the late 1990s and succeeded Colin Carr as head coach in the 2005 season.
He also taught social studies at Bel Air High and taught at Bel Air Middle School as well.
Mr. Kelly, 40, died Saturday in circumstances that remain murky. He was in traffic accident in the Baltimore area a week and a half ago and spent several days at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, although it is not clear whether injuries from the accident played a role in his death.
Members of his family could not be reached before press time Tuesday, and close friends and colleagues said they knew he had been in an accident but did not know where it occurred or how bad the crash was.
Representatives of the Maryland State Police, Harford County Sheriff's Office and Baltimore City Police Department said they could not provide details on the accident without more concrete information.
Mr. Kelly was found dead in his Fallston home Saturday, several days after he left Sinai Hospital.
He is survived by his parents, John E. and Marby Kelly; children, Brooke and Trey Kelly, Nathan and Andrew Gilpin, and Lori Kelly, their mother; brother, Kernan Kelly and sister-in-law Erin; nephews, Bryce, Gavin and Reid Kelly, and his girlfriend, Kristin Runk, her children Maddie, Owen and Olivia Runk, plus cousins, aunts and uncles, according to his obituary.
A funeral will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Mark Roman Catholic Church, 2407 Laurel Brook Road in Fallston.
Donations can be made to the Bel Air High School Men's Lacrosse Program, 100 Heighe St., Bel Air, MD 21014.
Mr. Kelly was in the hospital from Feb. 9 to last Wednesday, Feb. 12, Helene King, media relations coordinator for LifeBridge Health, Sinai's parent company, said.
Carr, Bel Air's former head coach whom Mr. Kelly succeeded in 2005, said he spoke to Mr. Kelly about a week ago.
They are also owners and directors of Tribe Lacrosse, a youth lacrosse organization they, along with Carr's wife, Allison, founded in 2001.
Carr is an assistant principal at Havre de Grace High School.
Tribe Lacrosse is open to boys and girls ages 6 to 17, and provides indoor lacrosse in the winter, summer camps and even trips to play in England. Indoor lacrosse games are held each Sunday at the Arena Club in Bel Air.
"He seemed OK," Carr recalled of the last time he and Mr. Kelly spoke, which was Thursday. "We were talking about lacrosse on Sunday and then I got the call Saturday morning."
Carr, who attended Fallston High School with Mr. Kelly, said Tribe Lacrosse would continue. He said Mr. Kelly worked to help players and families who struggled to afford travel and equipment, often paying for equipment and lacrosse sticks out of his own pocket.
"I think the one thing that was such a positive for Scoop, is he cared about the kids," Bel Air High teacher and wrestling coach Craig Reddish said.
Reddish said Mr. Kelly "worked hard at getting kids to play at the next level."
Mr. Kelly coached the Bobcats to a number of postseason victories, including an UCBAC division title in 2010 and state regional titles in 2011 and 2012, although they came just short of a trip to the state finals.
Mr. Kelly also racked up 100 career wins; the 100th win came May 13, 2013, when Bel Air defeated Franklin High School 14-10 in the regional semifinal game in the Class 4A-3A South division.
Dave Eddinger, who served as an assistant coach under Carr and then Mr. Kelly, said Mr. Kelly had an "intense" style and drove his players to give their best, although he stressed winning was not the most important thing.
"He didn't want them to miss an opportunity by not playing hard," Eddinger, who is in his first season as head coach of the Cecil College men's lacrosse team, said.
"He always [strove] to make sure that we played the best that we could play," Eddinger continued. "Because you never know when you're not going to play again."
Eddinger attended Fallston High with Mr. Kelly; he graduated in 1989 and Mr. Kelly in 1991.
They were childhood friends who played basketball and lacrosse through the Fallston Recreation Council, and also played basketball and lacrosse in high school.
"Scoop was a good player, a strong left-handed attackman," Eddinger recalled. "He was talented."
He said Mr. Kelly formed strong relationships with his players and pushed them to excel off the field also, to become "productive citizens."
Eddinger said Mr. Kelly was supporting him through his transition at Cecil College, a challenge after 10 years at Bel Air, and had asked to visit an upcoming practice.
"We're very, very close," he said. "We're like brothers."
Brent Baldwin, head lacrosse coach at Joppatowne High for the past seven years, said Mr. Kelly will be remembered for his talented team and his personal integrity.
"His teams played like he did. They always had this class about them," Baldwin said. "He could always crush me and run the score up on me, but no matter what, he was always real supportive of the players I had that had some talent."
"He was a classy guy on and off the field," he recalled.
Baldwin said everyone is still shocked about Mr. Kelly's death.
"It's not only shocking, it's saddening; you just kind of go numb; you don't know how to respond," he said. "I found out through a friend and it kind of floored me."
Baldwin only knew that Mr. Kelly had been in an accident.
He was "kind of concerned" about the Bel Air boys' team, which is set to start training in two weeks.
"It's going to be a heavy burden," Baldwin said about Mr. Kelly's team.
Bel Air High's Bellarion newspaper wrote an article about Mr. Kelly Tuesday.
"Mr. Kelly was a dedicated member of the Bobcat family and faculty and all are shocked at this loss," the article said.
Harford County Public Schools is providing a crisis intervention team for anyone who may need counselors, according to the article.
Anyone who needs additional assistance can also contact the Bel Air High counseling office at 410-638-4606.
"HCPS and Bel Air High School are saddened by the loss to our school community and will make every effort to help as needed," the article said.
The North Harford lacrosse team sent condolences on its Twitter feed Tuesday afternoon.
"RIP to a Harford County lacrosse legend, Scoop Kelly," the tweet said. "This season will not be the same without you."
Aegis reporter Bryna Zumer, Sports Editor Randy McRoberts and The Baltimore Sun contributed to this story.