“Our Mr. Kelley-A Lifetime of Coaching and Caring”- book release event Thursday, October 28 6-8pm Rocco’s Restaurant. Mr. Kelley will be signing his biography written by Wilmington Town Crier columnist Rick Cooke.
‘Our Mr. Kelley- A Lifetime of Coaching and Caring’- the story of Wilmington High School Hall of Fame teacher and track coach Frank Kelley- by Town Crier columnist Rick Cooke- forward by WHS graduate (1967) and award winning journalist David Boeri. To be released through the Harvard Book Store this October. –frankkelleybook.com – $20.00- with a portion of the proceeds going to the Kelley Family Scholarship at Wilmington High School.
“It must be God’s love for the Town of Wilmington that blessed us with such a great teacher, coach and most of all, friend.”-Andrea and Eric Braciska
In a scene right out of the film ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus, track coach and teacher-for-life Frank Kelley is led to the stage by two Wilmington High School students, where he leads the band through a rousing rendition of ‘Stars and Stripes.’ This is the opening salvo of the school’s annual spring concert. It’s 1994, and Frank Kelley is ‘retiring.’ Kelley, 78 years old at the time of the event, is far from calling it quits. He will simply- with his usual understated grace- be moving on to another phase of his life.
Frank Kelley is always looking to see if the thousands of student-athletes that he has touched over the years will follow his blueprint of coaching and caring. Fifty-four years coaching, 41 years teaching young people who were all touched by this legend who lifted lives with a healthy dose of hard work and humor at all the right moments and all the right places. They flood newspaper offices, school departments and newcomers with tales of this man who meant so much to them.
Everyone knows Frank Kelley or has a Kelley story to share. They all speak passionately about the man that they say ultimately changed their lives, either in the classroom or after school with a simple pat on the back and some advice- go out for track and strive toward that personal best. This is Frank Kelley’s story, told by the people who have lived with him, learned from him, and have come to love him.
Some 15 years after leaving the track that now bears his name, Kelley is still beating the bushes at Reading High School, carrying his omnipresent big stick that helps with his balance and wearing his trademark pith helmet that gives this coaching and teaching icon the look of a big-game hunter set for his next safari.
A former student said it best, telling the listener that he really thinks that Kelley was a great teacher who just happened to be a very good coach. “Frank Kelley challenges kids. He taught me to think like a mathematician.”
Kelley would probably rather be known as the impetus behind hundreds of success stories, rather than some legendary figure who has retired and been put out to pasture, telling teaching and coaching war stories from a chair nestled in the corner of some back porch.
Frank is just not the retiring type. He wants to work and give back to a community- and for many years that community was Wilmington. He still talks to young people about getting the most from their lives, of not completing any task without first asking a question or solving a problem. He expects his student-athletes, even today, to toe the line and follow his example that he saw shaped by his own teachers throughout his life.
Wilmington High School Band Director Barbara Mette said of Kelley in the early 1990’s, just before he retired from Wilmington High School: “In my opinion, every kid should have Frank Kelley for a teacher at least once.”