When the Ridley boys basketball job opened up in March, Kevin Kelly saw a chance for a homecoming.
For two-plus decades, Kelly has coached anywhere and everywhere in Southeastern PA. But the chance to return to Ridley, where he got his first job under legendary coach John DiGregorio in the early 1990s, was something he’d long prized.
“Ridley’s a job that, ever since I started coaching, I always wanted to coach there,” Kelly said Tuesday after obtaining board approval to be hired as Ridley’s new boys hoops coach. “It’s an extremely special place and a special program. It was just by chance that it opened up now, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to get back into Delaware County and back to Ridley.”
Kelly takes over for Mike Snyder, who led Ridley on its most successful era before retiring in March. Snyder won a pair of Central League titles and qualified for three PIAA tournaments in six seasons, posting a 104-53 record. The Green Raiders went 11-11 last season, missing the District 1 Class 6A playoffs.
Inheriting a program with such a track record particularly appealed to Kelly, challenges and all.
“They have that success, and I’m just hoping to continue to build and carry on what Mike has built, obviously, and with the coaches before there that had great success,” Kelly said. “It’s going to take work to continue that, but from my standpoint, I’ve always worked extremely hard. I want to make sure we put a great product on the floor and carry on that great tradition.”
Since his last stint at Ridley, Kelly has gotten a grand tour of the area’s hoops scene. He first ventured to Sun Valley, where he mentored 1994-95 Daily Times Player of the Year Tommy Hauer and won a pair of Del Val titles. He jumped to the college ranks at Williamson Trade School before being hired at Archbishop Carroll in 1998, but he wasn’t able to fill the position due to a bout with leukemia.
With his health restored, he got his Catholic League shot with St. Joseph’s Prep for two seasons, then ended up back at Sun Valley from 2006-13, including another battle with leukemia.
For the last two seasons, he’s been the coach at Oxford, posting a 22-22 record.
Kelly has run the gamut of leagues in his time, coaching in the Catholic League, Del Val and Ches-Mont. He’s excited to add the Central League to that list.
“Now to be in the Central League is a thrill as well,” he said. “There’s a bunch of great coaches in that league and a bunch of great programs.”