No novice for Springstead

Pat Kelly was chosen from a pool of 20 applicants that included individuals from Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi and Kentucky.

Published May 31, 2007

Pat Kelly knew he wanted to leave Delaware for a warmer climate, but the 55-year-old beach lifeguard didn't want to give up the water.

So when he saw an opening for Springstead boys basketball coach, the longtime coach didn't waste any time applying.

And when Springstead saw Kelly's resume, which included 20-plus years of coaching experience and several deep playoff runs, the Eagles called him up for an interview. Springstead athletic director Bob Levija said it didn't take long to figure out Kelly was the right person for the job.

Kelly, who has coached in Delaware and Pennsylvania, recently coached boys basketball at Indian River High in Delaware. He led Indian River to nine division championships and five conference championships. He also made six trips to the state quarterfinals and reached the state semifinals twice.

In 2003, he coached at Dover and led the boys team to the state finals. His overall record as a head coach is 354-235.

Kelly, who will teach social studies at Springstead, was chosen from a pool of 20 applicants that included individuals from Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi and Kentucky.

He inherits a Springstead team that won back-to-back district championships under former coach Craig Swartout. Swartout, who also coaches softball, chose to step down as basketball coach this month. Juggling the sports, which overlap, was getting too difficult.

Swartout got a chance to talk with Kelly about the program during Kelly's visit to the school this month.

"He's a real go-getter and really has great attention to detail, " Swartout said. "His past record speaks for itself. I'm excited for our program."

Kelly's focus is on fundamentals, but his immediate priority is to evaluate rising and returning basketball players. He plans to come down in June and spend time pinpointing each of his player's strengths and weaknesses before he starts introducing his system, which hinges on an aggressive defense.

"My belief is you've got to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts, " Kelly said. "If you address individual improvement first, the potential for the whole becomes greater."

Kellie Dixon can be reached at kdixon@sptimes.com or 352 544-9480.