Northeast Times

Shane Kelly’s name lives on through soccer

  • Memories live on: Former Frankford soccer coach Bill Snyder, center, presents members of Shane Kelly’s family mementos of their son prior to last Saturday’s Shane Kelly Memorial Soccer Showcase. Kelly, a former Public League MVP at Frankford, was shot and killed during a botched robbery in Fishtown in November 2011. JASON ACHUFF / FOR THE TIMES

  • Memories live on: Former Frankford soccer coach Bill Snyder, center, addresses members of the Frankford and Central soccer teams prior to last Saturday’s Shane Kelly Memorial Soccer Showcase. Kelly, a former Public League MVP at Frankford, was shot and killed during a botched robbery in Fishtown in November 2011. JASON ACHUFF / FOR THE TIMES

  • Memories live on: Former Frankford soccer coach Bill Snyder, center, presents members of Shane Kelly’s family mementos of their son prior to last Saturday’s Shane Kelly Memorial Soccer Showcase. Kelly, a former Public League MVP at Frankford, was shot and killed during a botched robbery in Fishtown in November 2011. JASON ACHUFF / FOR THE TIMES

  • Memories live on: Chris Jones, Public League soccer chairman and friend of Shane Kelly, organized Saturday’s Shane Kelly Memorial Soccer Showcase. Kelly, a former Public League MVP at Frankford, was shot and killed during a botched robbery in Fishtown in November 2011. BILL ACHUFF / FOR THE TIMES

  • Frankford and Central compete in the first annual Shane Kelly Memorial Soccer Showcase. JASON ACHUFF / FOR THE TIMES

  • La Salle and Holy Ghost Prep compete in the first annual Shane Kelly Memorial Soccer Showcase. JASON ACHUFF / FOR THE TIMES

  • Washington and Franklin Towne Charter compete in the first annual Shane Kelly Memorial Soccer Showcase. BILL ACHUFF / FOR THE TIMES

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, from the spec­tat­ors in the stands to the play­ers and coaches on the field in­volved in the quad­ruple-head­er. 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. “He led by ex­ample. Off the field, he was an hon­est per­son and a good stu­dent. What a tragedy that a fine young man pur­sued his edu­ca­tion, had a good job in a hos­pit­al and lived life to the fullest, only to be wasted like that.”

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. He loved all sports, but soc­cer was his first love from about the time he was 4 years old.

“I thought there was a really good turnout in the first year, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing they didn’t have a whole lot of time to put it to­geth­er. Know­ing what he was all about, it was just great to see.”

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. In­ter­ested play­ers will write a one-page es­say at the end of the sea­son de­scrib­ing how play­ing high school soc­cer has helped them build qual­it­ies such as team­work, per­son­al char­ac­ter and ca­marader­ie. Then, Jones and the Kelly fam­ily will re­view the sub­mis­sions and ul­ti­mately cut a check to the win­ners’ col­leges for next year. Any­thing raised by the Shane Kelly Me­mori­al Fund will be giv­en dir­ectly back to loc­al stu­dent-ath­letes, something Kelly him­self would have wanted, ac­cord­ing to Jones and the fam­ily.

“My goal is to pro­mote soc­cer across the city to get more kids in­volved,” Jones said. “We have the ath­letes; we just need to get them out on the field. We def­in­itely want to keep this go­ing. We had good sup­port and spon­sor­ship in get­ting it off the ground, and we want to get big­ger and bet­ter to build and pro­mote high level soc­cer com­pet­i­tion. 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. He just kept go­ing with it, with the same bunch of friends, and they made even more friends through the sport. He was that type of kid in that every­one grav­it­ated to­ward him, so it was really good that Chris did this. I’m glad this week­end was a suc­cess, be­cause that’s what my son was all about, good soc­cer and help­ing people.” ••

To make a dona­tion to the Shane Kelly Me­mori­al Fund, or to find out how to get in­volved in plan­ning next year’s show­case, con­tact Chris Jones at 215-758-1969 or cw­jones@philasd.org

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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