Tradition and a commitment to excellence are what the Whittier College Men’s Lacrosse Team strives to achieve everyday. It starts with the individual, both on and off the field, from offseason weight lifting to Fall Ball and the first game of the season. Student-athletes value the input and knowledge of their coaches. Whittier College’s Lacrosse Head Coach Brian Kelly knows all about this lifestyle, both as a player and a coach.
Coach Kelly was born and raised in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. In 1999 he graduated from high school and made the decision to switch coasts and come to Whittier, where he spent his time playing lacrosse and earning his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education.
As a student, Kelly played four years of lacrosse as a long stick midfielder. During that time, he made two National Tournament appearances as a captain, helping the Whittier team make their first ever appearance in 2002, and the Poet’s deepest playoff run the following year in 2003.
“2002 sort of came through for us, and we gained a lot of confidence that further instilled winning habits,” Kelly said about going into the 2003 season. Kelly was also named a second team All-American for both the 2002 and 2003 seasons.
However, Kelly’s playing days didn’t end in Whittier. He went on to play professionally for three California teams in both the National Lacrosse League for the Anaheim Storm, and the Major Lacrosse League for the San Francisco Dragons and the L.A. Riptide.
Until recently Kelly has played on the LXM Pro Tour, an all-star team with numerous professional players with both the NLL and MLL that play to help grow the game of lacrosse.
“I was fortunate to have earned an opportunity by having a good college career to get a chance to perform at that level. It was an incredible honor and so much fun, said Kelly. “You got to be incredibly grateful anytime you get an opportunity to do something at the highest level in something that you’re passionate about.”
Kelly would stay at Whittier during that time, participating as the Assistant Coach for five years after his graduation until 2008. In 2009, he would take over the reigns of the team and step in as the interim head coach, before assuming the out-right position. During his time as head coach, Kelly has led the Poets to six seasons exceeding a record of .500. In 2016, he coached the team to an 8-6 record. The team returned to the National Tournament for the first time since 2004, losing in the first round to Colorado College.
Kelly has also helped several of his players, such as Ben Brown, Anthony Lackey, and, most recently, Matt Symes, make professional teams in the NLL.
Kelly continues to coach and lead his team to more victories.The last time the Poets will be in action at home will be against Colorado College for the Locker-Stabler Cup on Saturday, Apr. 29 at 1:00 p.m. on the Memorial Football field.
For a deeper look into the Poet’s season, interviews, and highlights, go to the Whittier College Sports Network channel on YouTube for more videos and content.