Recent Medical Lake grad busy playing showcase baseball, football games before college career
Normally a serious knee injury can mean the beginning of the end of an athlete’s sports career.
Certainly not the slippery slope it appears Medical Lake’s Kasey Kelly has avoided.
For a guy who had two torn ACLs in his high school sports career, Kelly’s living some kind of dream as a member of two state all-star teams.
The 19-year-old, who graduated last Saturday as part of ML’s Class of 2013, raced to Yakima in time to play in the championship game of the State All-Star Series in baseball. There he played for Team Rainier, half the game at shortstop and finished as catcher in a 7-2 loss to Team Baker.
Now Kelly sets his sights on football and the Earl Barden Classic that will take place Saturday, June 22 at East Valley High in Yakima. He will play free safety for the East team composed of 2A/1A/2B/1B players and coached by Jim Fisk of Chewelah.
“It’s pretty awesome coming off two torn ACLs,” Kelly said. “It’s a really good honor to be playing in a football game and a baseball game.”
It’s quite remarkable in the first place that Kelly was named to play in state all-star games in two sports. Quick checks with longtime sportswriters and coaches failed to bring up any others in the recent past in this area who accomplished such a feat.
“I’ve seen a couple that made state both ways offensively and defensively in football, but don’t recall two sports,” his football coach, Wes Hobbs said.
He injured the same knee both as a sophomore in California and then in his junior year at Medical Lake.
Kelly played hurt as a junior in football, going both ways as a safety and wide receiver, but had surgery after the season. “Freshman year (in California) I was out with a broken ankle,” he added.
So to be able to play senior seasons injury free was both fun and a blessing for Kelly, who quickly knocked on the wooden bleachers for luck at Medical Lake’s Holliday Field, a place he made so many memories for himself and Cardinal fans.
One might be hitting a recent home run that totally cleared the football bleachers.
The 6 foot, 1 inch, 180-pound Kelly was recently named to the first team All-Northeast A League in baseball, this after the fall season where he earned similar honors for football both on offense as a wide receiver and in the defensive backfield.
When asked if there’s a favorite of the two sports, Kelly had the right answer. “I like football during football season; I like baseball during baseball season, I love ‘em both.”
Kelly shuns the suggestion that he’s a naturally born athlete saying it’s all about the amount of work one puts into the quest. “It took a lot of hard work to become what I am right now,” he said.
“During the offseason I was in the weight room and at physical therapy almost every day,” Kelly explained. With his dad, ML head baseball coach Kerry Kelly as coach, the two were in the gym constantly, “If not every day, every other day,” he said.
Last Sunday in the game played at Davis High, Kelly had a hit, but never got a ball hit his way while in the field. He did, however, get to team up again with Adam Paulson and catch his good friend for four innings in relief.
“We had an Adam-Kasey duo,” Kelly said. “We just get each other,” he said of the chemistry that has been present in the past few seasons. Kelly and Paulson are currently playing summer ball for The Crew select team.
To help prepare for the football game Kelly said he’d bring a football to every baseball practice and maybe have Paulson wing him a few, like they did the past two years for Medical Lake’s football team.
Players report to Yakima June 15 for a week of workouts in preparation for next Saturday’s 1 p.m. game.
After this summer Kelly will attend Spokane Falls Community College and play baseball. “Hopefully I’ll transfer to a four-year (school) and continue playing baseball,” he said.
Kelly hopes baseball leads him to a professional career. “That’s the dream,” he said. But he’ll study physical therapy, or anything in the health occupation.His multiple knee injuries have led him to the PT calling.
Kelly chose baseball because, “It’s safer I’d say.”
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.