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A Dulaney High women’s basketball game honors a treasured alumna

Players and coaches pose at the third annual Dulaney Women’s Basketball Alumni game that honored a late player, Nancy Kelly. - Original Credit:
Players and coaches pose at the third annual Dulaney Women’s Basketball Alumni game that honored a late player, Nancy Kelly. - Original Credit: (Courtesy Photo / John Bowers / HANDOUT)

The third annual Dulaney Women’s Basketball Alumni game drew a crowd on Jan. 12, when it was played in honor of Nancy Kelly, a 2011 Dulaney graduate who was tragically killed in a car accident caused by a drunken driver in 2016. Teammates, friends and family gathered to celebrate Nancy, a four-year varsity basketball player, and to raise money for a scholarship fund in her name at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Nancy was just completing her first year of medical school when she died.

Nancy was a bright light in our community — a serious student, a standout basketball player and an all-around wonderful person. Head basketball coach Jessica Szymanski, who was an assistant coach during Nancy’s years at Dulaney, along with Nancy’s longtime friends and teammates, Cristy Askew and Shannon McKew, wanted to make a tradition of hosting the alumni game in Nancy’s honor and have since been able to raise several thousand dollars for the scholarship fund.

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Shannon explained: “Nancy was a leader on and off the court. She always put in the extra effort to make herself and everyone around her better. Nancy was a fantastic basketball player but an even better person and friend. She impacted many lives and continues to impact those who are a part of this annual tradition.”

Nancy continued her basketball career at Virginia Wesleyan, where she led her team to the ODAC Conference Championship in 2015.

It is fitting that the alumni game is held each year in Nancy’s honor since she always pressed for a women’s basketball alumni game so former teammates and friends could reconnect. She helped to organize the first “unofficial” alumni game in December 2015.

Shannon mentioned that one of her favorite memories from that game was of Nancy yelling, “Get up the floor,” to her and Cristy, when they lagged behind on a fast break. They couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that Nancy was still as competitive as ever and pushed her team to win the game, even if it was “just for fun.”

Nancy would have approved of the final play of this year’s alumni game, when Danielle Parker, basketball standout from the Class of 2008 and Dulaney Athletic Hall of Fame member, swished a near half-court buzzer-beating basket to complete the White team’s 58-37 win over the Purple team.

Team White was coached by Nancy’s former head coach, Richie Welsh, with players Parker, Tiffany Jantzen, Askew, Caroline Meegan, Nia Marrow, Kelsie Swanson, Riley McWilliams and Julia Whatley. Team Purple was coached by former assistant coach Catherine Spears and featured McKew, Kathy Albornoz, Courtney Jantzen, Taylor Roberts, Mikaela Romero, Akirra Pullen, Cori Levy and Lydia Naughton. The event hashtag, #LiveLoveLearnLikeNancy, seems to capture the essence of Nancy Kelly, and she certainly is missed.

On Feb. 7, Dulaney basketball will hold another special event to support two worthy causes when it hosts its annual Think Pink Fight Against Breast Cancer Night as well as dedicating the games to Bryan Read, the longtime athletic trainer at the school. Sadly, Bryan passed away from colon cancer at the age of 36 just six months ago.

The proceeds will be split among the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Bryan Read Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to an outstanding student-athlete who embodies the spirit and all the best characteristics of Bryan Read.

The women’s and men’s varsity basketball teams will play back-to-back games against Carver High School beginning at 4 p.m. at Dulaney High School.

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