Shane Kelly’s name lives on through soccer

A Fishtown man's love of soc­cer is re­membered in a me­mori­al game held at North­east High School.

  • Shane Kelly.

  • Players stand in remembrance of Shane Kelly at this month’s soccer tournament in his name.

Shane Kelly loved good soc­cer. Even bey­ond that, he was con­sumed by the sport’s abil­ity to bring people to­geth­er. 

Com­ing up on the two-year an­niversary of Kelly’s un­timely death, Chris Jones has made it his mis­sion to make sure his good friend’s name lives on through the two pas­sions he loved so much.

On Sept. 14 at North­east High School, Jones, the Pub­lic League soc­cer chair­man and dean of stu­dents at Samuel Fels High School, un­veiled the first Shane Kelly Me­mori­al Soc­cer Show­case. It was a day full of com­pet­it­ive soc­cer and people who loved the game. Ac­cord­ing to Jones, it was ex­actly how Kelly, who was tra­gic­ally shot to death dur­ing a botched rob­bery in Fishtown while walk­ing with his girl­friend in Novem­ber 2011, would have wanted it.

“He had a real big pas­sion for the game of soc­cer, and a big­ger heart for bring­ing people to­geth­er through the sport,” said Jones, who ad­ded he and Kelly began play­ing soc­cer to­geth­er around the age of 8. “When I got the soc­cer chair po­s­i­tion last year, one of the first things I made known was that I wanted to hon­or his memory, and what bet­ter way than bring­ing his two pas­sions of great friends and soc­cer all on the same day?”

The me­mori­al show­case fea­tured four games, which kicked off with Cent­ral play­ing Frank­ford, where Kelly starred as a Pub­lic League MVP from 1999-2002 un­der former Pi­on­eers soc­cer coach Bill Snyder, who was on hand and ad­dressed the teams as well as Kelly’s fam­ily be­fore the game. 

“Shane was a gif­ted kid, not only on the soc­cer field where he was such a good play­er, but also that he could al­ways bring out the best in oth­ers,” said Snyder, who presen­ted Kelly’s fam­ily with a por­trait of Shane in his Frank­ford uni­form and oth­er saved mem­or­ab­il­ia be­fore the game.    

Cent­ral pre­vailed over Frank­ford, 7-0, in the show­case’s first game. Later on, Judge topped McDe­vitt, 6-0, Wash­ing­ton upen­ded Frank­lin Towne Charter, 2-1, and Holy Ghost nipped La Salle, 2-1, in the day’s fi­nale. 

Some coaches, in­clud­ing Judge’s John Dun­lop and La Salle’s Bob Peffle, altered their team’s sched­ules so that they could play at North­east on a day to hon­or Kelly, who was the epi­tome of all that was good about high school soc­cer.

After Kelly gradu­ated from Frank­ford, he stayed in­volved with the sport, help­ing es­tab­lish men’s league teams and some­times ref­er­eed Pub­lic League games with his fath­er, Bri­an, who spoke fondly of his son as well as friends like Jones who are try­ing to keep Shane’s memory alive.

“Shane was in­to help­ing people and any­thing to keep his friends to­geth­er through sports,” Bri­an Kelly said. “Wheth­er it was soc­cer, soft­ball, bowl­ing, whatever … any­thing to get people to­geth­er to have fun.”

At the Kelly fam­ily’s in­sist­ence, all pro­ceeds from the day will be used to fund four par­tial schol­ar­ships at the end of the year, one each for a male and fe­male soc­cer play­er in the Cath­ol­ic and Pub­lic leagues.   

“My goal is to pro­mote soc­cer across the city to get more kids in­volved,” Jones said. “Our hope is that it keeps grow­ing from the start of today.”

Whatever the case, Bri­an Kelly’s heart was warmed by the ges­ture, and he was honored to see his son’s name live on through the things that defined him most. 

“It was great to see some good soc­cer keep­ing all those kids to­geth­er out there,” Kelly said. “It def­in­itely did for Shane. I’m glad this week­end was a suc­cess, be­cause that’s what my son was all about, good soc­cer and help­ing people.”

Ry­an Mc­Manus, 22, the gun­man in Kelly’s shoot­ing, and Richard Smith, 20, his ac­com­plice, pled guilty on third-de­gree murder and re­lated charges and ac­cep­ted plea bar­gains in court on Sept. 10. Mc­Manus was sen­tenced to 32 ½ to 70 years in state pris­on and fined $25,000; Smith was sen­tenced to 13 ½ to 27 years and a $25,000 fine. **

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