MASCAC Made: Mike Kelley - Massachusetts Maritime Football & Baseball
March 30, 2017
By Emily Loux, MASCAC Director of Media Relations
It is a family tradition.
From both of his grandfathers to his father and now him, Mike Kelley of Massachusetts Maritime, can’t remember a childhood memory that didn’t involve sports. As the baseball coach and assistant football coach for the Buccaneers, Kelley continues a family history steeped in athletics.
Kelley, the son of Tom Kelley the Athletic Director and head football coach at Framingham State, is no stranger to the sports world. Whether he was playing in Pop Warner or Little League, it was something that was always around the Kelley household.
When it came to his college decision, attending Massachusetts Maritime was an easy one for Kelley. It gave him the opportunity to play both sports he loves and had the promise of a job after graduation.
“The biggest reason was because I could play football and baseball plus I had a job waiting when I was done, “Kelley said. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. It made my decision easy. Since Massachusetts Maritime isn’t a traditional school, I knew it would be a challenge which I was excited to try.”
Kelley graduated with his degree in facilities engineering in 1999 and moved on to a job at Bayer Pharmaceuticals in West Haven, Conn. He stayed there for six years and was in charge of the water purification process that they put into pills. Despite enjoying his time after college, he kept feeling a pull back to Massachusetts.
“I called up Jeremy Cameron, Massachusetts Maritime head football coach, when he was hired to congratulate him and he basically asked ‘well what are you doing’,” Kelley said. “Our family is in Massachusetts so we wanted to get back there. He said if you ever want to move back and get into coaching, let me know. I told him I want to come back right now.”
Kelley got a job at a nearby nursing home in facilities during his first year under Cameron before a full-time opportunity opened up on campus. He was named the company officer in the Commandant of Cadets Office where he still serves today. A frequent question he receives is what his day job entails. One of the reasons he loves his job is no two days are the same.
“What I do for a living is the toughest question I get asked, “Kelley said. “I am in charge of 280 students, including everything from their health, well-being and discipline to military training and grades. Every day is different for me. You can have a kid come in one day and share a tragedy then another day someone can be commissioned into the navy. You never know what it will be like.”
It didn’t take long after he was back on campus to knock on then head baseball coach and Athletic Director Bob Corradi’s door to help out with the baseball team. Despite Corradi not being able to offer him money to assist, Kelley didn’t care. He wanted to be back out on the diamond again.
Fast forward 10 years and now Kelley sits at the helm of the Buccaneers baseball program following Corradi’s retirement in 2015. Although he was extremely excited to be the head coach, Kelley knew he had big shoes to fill.
“It is overwhelming to take the place of Coach C,” Kelley said. “He had been here for 43 years. I wanted to be successful and make him proud. Bob left the program in great shape. I think that was part of his plan. Once the program was in good shape, he was ready to retire.”
In his first season at the helm, Kelley led the Buccaneers to 24 wins, which is third most in school history, while also leading them to their first trip to the MASCAC Championship game. The team earned their second straight berth in the ECAC New England tournament making it to the semifinals. Logan Sullo was named the MASCAC Baseball Player of the Year for the second straight year while four Bucs earned a spot on the All-Conference team.
Looking back on his time as a student-athlete is a walk down memory lane for Kelley. Some of his special ones are playing in the Cranberry Bowl against Bridgewater State, an annual tradition for both teams, the Kelley Cup against Framingham State each season and moving to quarterback the last two games on his senior year.
When it comes to baseball, all of his memories seem to revolve around one person.
“Honestly, most of my memories center around Coach C,” Kelley said. “It's hard to think of a memory that didn't include him when you talk about MMA baseball memories. He created half of those memories himself, whether it was him sliding into home while doing a snow angel on the plate or him hiding in the corner of the dugout because he was too nervous to watch the outcome of an at bat.”
It has been 12 years since Kelley first walked back on Massachusetts Maritime’s campus and all that time has been extremely rewarding for Kelley. The ability to connect with all of the cadets whether they compete in athletics or not while also being able to relate to their experiences makes it all worth it. Having been in there shoes not long ago, he has some simple advice for them.
“Put all that you have into college,” Kelley said. “Try to do and be involved in as much as you can. Make the most of your experience but also make sure to take care of your academics. All of this will make life a lot better when you graduate.”