Friends, family, former colleagues, former students and former players will honor the memory of the late Bel Air High School boys varsity lacrosse coach John "Scoop" Kelly II with a 5K run-walk planned Oct. 26 at Harford Community College.
The purpose of the event is to raise money for scholarships for deserving Bel Air High School students, explained Mr. Kelly's father, John E. Kelly Sr., who said they hope to make this an annual event.
Scoop Kelly died Feb. 15, five days from his 41st birthday, from complications following a massive seizure suffered at his Bel Air home, according to his father. He had been involved in an automobile accident in Baltimore the week before and suffered a chest injury, his father said, but had been discharged from the hospital and was back to work when the seizure occurred. He said doctors told him the seizure did not appear to be related to the injuries from the accident.
"So many people have come forward and expressed their admiration and gratitude for our son," John Kelly said, noting the past eight months have been difficult for their family, particularly for his wife, Marby.
"The memory of losing our son has been tough enough to live with, but on my wife it has been terrible," he said. The Kellys have another son, Kernan, who, like his brother, was also a lacrosse player and a high school basketball player. Scoop Kelly had two children, Brooke, 11, and Trey – John E. Kelly III, 6.
John Kelly, who practices law in Bel Air, said at first he was reluctant to get involved in the plan to form a memorial foundation because of the grief he and his wife feel.
"We talked with many young people, not just lacrosse players, but students of our son, who told us how much he helped them," he said. "Our son was very successful as a coach, but there were kids he taught – not just lacrosse players – who really loved him. I think this will be a good way to honor those memories."
The 5K walk/run will begin at 9 a.m. Participants are asked to use the east entrance to the college by Wawa. Registration is $25 in advance or $30 the day of the event. Sponsorships are available at four different levels. For information, visit http://www.eliteracemanagement.com, call 410-836-7212 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As of late last week, about $6,000 in sponsorships had been pledged for the Scoop Kelly 5K, including $1,000 from H&S Bakery, of Baltimore, where one of Mr. Kelly's ex-player's father works, John Kelly said. They also have $2,500 that was donated to Bel Air High in Scoop Kelly's memory following his death.
The number of scholarships they will be able to award will depend on the money raised, and John Kelly said they are off to a good start.
The scholarships won't be for lacrosse players or athletes, but rather for "good students who contribute to their school and their community," he said, in keeping with his son's roles as a teacher and mentor.
Scoop Kelly was a standout lacrosse player at Fallston High School. He played at Mary Washington College in Virginia, but his career was cut short by a knee injury, his father said. While still at Mary Washington, Scoop Kelly suffered a head injury when he slipped on ice and hit his head several times.
His son required cognitive rehabilitation, John Kelly said, and the injury forced him to abandon plans to follow his father into the law. Instead, Scoop Kelly transferred to Towson University, where he eventually earned his teaching degree, while overcoming the physical effects of his injury.
Scoop Kelly taught history and social studies at the elementary and middle school levels, before moving on to Bel Air High, because he wanted to be at the school where he was coaching, his father said. In all, he taught 17 years in Harford County Public Schools.
He became head boys lacrosse coach at BAHS in 2005, after assisting Colin Carr for several years. In 2001, Carr, Carr's wife, Allison, and Mr. Kelly formed Tribe Lacrosse, which stages youth clinics and camps the year round, as well as sponsoring club teams.
John Kelly said one of the highlights of his son's high school coaching career was twice beating his alma mater, Fallston, the county's perennial boys lacrosse power, something Bel Air had never done in the 30-plus years Fallston had been a school. He also took the Bobcats to region finals on at least three occasions, another milestone for the program.
John Kelly said his son had a passion for lacrosse, but even more for teaching it and for working with young people, both on the playing field and in the classroom. Though he dealt with occasional seizures and headaches from his head injury, John Kelly said his son's medical condition did not deter him from doing what he enjoyed most.
"One of the things he did was work to get kids lacrosse college scholarships, not just kids he coached at Bel Air, but kids he knew from other schools," John Kelly said. "He had developed a network with the coaches as a lot of the smaller schools down South, to the point where they would call him looking for players. I think at least 30 kids got scholarships, probably 10 of them who he never coached."