Brian Kelly led the Whittier College Poets to the Division 3 Final Four when he captained the Poets in 2003, and he wants to return as a coach. As the head coach of the only NCAA team in Southern California, Kelly offers locals the chance to stay close to home, experience NCAA competition, and if Kelly has his way, earn a Memorial Day weekend trip back east. Kelly enters his sixth season as head coach of the Poets with 15 Californians on his roster. Read on to learn more about man who wants to lead a California college to an NCAA championship.
Q: Tell us about your lacrosse background. Where did you play? How long have you been coaching?
A: I grew up outside of Philadelphia and played lacrosse here at Whittier. I was a 2x All American, captain of our 2003 Final Four team and played 10 years of professional lacrosse in the NLL, MLL & LXM Pro Tour. I started coaching at Whittier as an assistant in 2003 and became the head coach in 2009. I also serve as the Western Training Director for 3D Lacrosse.
Q: What style of play do you like to use?
A: Our style will be dependent on personnel, but my general philosophy is a fast, physical & aggressive brand of lacrosse with a strong commitment to team D and lots of ball and player movement on offense. I value a healthy mix of fundamentals and creativity.
Q: Do you usually give pre-game, inspirational speeches?
A: I never force pregame speeches. Our guys should be excited enough on their own for opportunities to compete at this level. That said, I do break some good ones out every once in awhile if the time is right.
Q: Would you say you’re particularly loud on the sidelines?
A: I try to be quiet on the sidelines and let our guys play, but I will certainly say things that need to be said. I’m probably more guilty of letting our guys play too much at times.
Q: Did you have any pre-game rituals as a player? What was it?
A: I’ve never had a specific pre game ritual. I’ve always been a simple go out there and compete type of guy.
Q: Favorite memory as a lacrosse player?
A: Playing in the first NCAA Tournament game west of the Mississippi (2002). It’s a big deal in he lacrosse world when our program does well and I took a ton of pride in that experience.
Q: Favorite memory as a coach?
A: Beating Ithaca in 2011. It was the first win over a marquee DIII program while I was the head coach. Although this answer will change once we make the NCAA tournament this year!
Q: Name three things on your lacrosse bucket list?
1. Get Whittier back in the NCAA Tournament
2. Win a DIII Championship
3. See varsity lacrosse grow on the west coast
Q: Favorite Movie of All Time?
A: The Big Lebowski
Q: Give us a five song playlist for a conditioning session?
A: I’m not much of a music listener while working out (or a runner anymore for that matter!). However, my favorite Pandora station is Van Morrison Radio.
Q: What is one piece of advise for a young player looking forward to playing in high school?
A: Have fun with your friends, play other sports & work hard at your fundamental skills.