Kelly, a 1996 GHHS graduate, recently won his third state championship at Benzie Central, as he guided the Huskies’ girls track team to the title in the Division 3 finals at Comstock Park on June 4. Benzie Central edged Frankenmuth by the slimmest of margins, 54-53, to take home the hardware.
A highlight of the meet was the Huskies’ 3,200-meter relay team setting a new state record with a time of 9 minutes, 22 seconds.
Kelly previously won state titles with the Huskies’ boys cross country team in 2010 and the girls cross country squad in 2009.
“I learned many things from Laughlin and Mousseau that helped plant the seed that made me want to become a coach,” said Kelly, a second-grade teacher at Betsie Valley Elementary School in Thompsonville. “I loved how they would infuse their own personality into their coaching and make things fun. I constantly do the same today, much to the chagrin of my athletes who sometimes roll their eyes at some of my comments.
“These two coaches helped establish a work ethic in me that has lasted a lifetime.”
Mousseau remains the boys track coach at Grand Haven, while Laughlin retired last season as the head man of the Bucs’ boys cross country squad.
Kelly said he was fortunate to also learn under a legendary coach at Benzie Central, Pete Moss, who won eight state titles prior to Kelly’s arrival. Moss is in the Michigan High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame and has also been honored at the national level.
“I volunteered under him for six years in cross country and learned day-in and day-out how to coach,” Kelly said. “Combine the coaches I had in high school, the time spent with Moss, the numerous coaching clinics I have attended, and the fact that I am constantly reading up on coaching, all of this has helped mold me into the coach I am today.”
Kelly said the demands of running his own program has made it difficult to get back home and compete in area road races, although he has ran the Coast Guard run a few times and had a strong performance at the Grand Haven Triathlon in 2009.
For example, this past weekend, Kelly led a group of Benzie Central girls runners to the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. The record-breaking 3,200 relay team finished seventh in the nation, one spot away from earning All-American honors.
“Every year it seems to be tougher to get home and compete in races now that I am in charge of my own teams and multiple road races that coincide with the Grand Haven races,” he said.