After a nine-year hiatus, Brophy Prep’s former soccer coach, Marc Kelly, will return to lead the program in the upcoming season.
Kelly returns after having coached the Brophy Broncos from 2001 to 2013, during which time he led the soccer team to state titles in 2008, 2011 and 2013.
“I’m excited to be back on the sidelines after being away for nine years and watching the program develop differently,” said Kelly.
Kelly graduated from Brophy in 1987 and now teaches ceramics and sculpture in Brophy’s art department. He also works as the technical director for the school’s theater department.
“Marc is not only an accomplished coach, but he is also a veteran teacher and Ignatian educator, having taught at Brophy since 2000,” Principal Bob Ryan said.
Kelly began his athletic career as a student, playing two years of soccer under the late Paul Micheletti, a revered coach cherished by many in the community. Micheletti led the Broncos to their first state championship in 1990.
“He’s this legendary coach. He was one of the first who rounded out Brophy soccer,” Kelly said.
After graduation, Kelly went on to play division one soccer for Gonzaga University as a defensive midfielder before graduating in 1991 and moving back to the Valley to pursue a career in education and athletics.
“It was a natural progression for me to move into a coaching role,” Kelly said.
In his early career, Kelly began training various teams and clubs to learn more about the game of soccer from a coaching perspective. He dedicated time to learning how to coach the game from different angles. He spent time pursuing additional licenses and coaching for Paradise Valley Community College before being asked to return to Brophy for a teaching position in the art department.
Kelly, who is now in his 23rd year at Brophy, said he felt lucky when the school first asked him to join its staff. He was in his second year of teaching when he began his coaching career.
Under Kelly’s leadership, the team won three state championships and took the runner-up position in championship tournaments twice. Kelly also oversaw the nomination of three Gatorade Players of the Year and pioneered the program’s travel schedule, giving the team a seat in tournaments with other highly accomplished out-of-state teams.
“The school really allowed me to see the way forward for developing young leaders and men of integrity,” Kelly said.
He’s been with the same group of gifted players for many years, meeting some of them as young as middle school because they had older brothers on the varsity team. In 2013, after the Broncos secured another state championship title, the coach felt it was an appropriate time to focus on his teaching career.
“It was an epic team, we went straight to the final, and we won it. It felt like that was the right moment to step away,” said Kelly.
With many of his long-time players graduating and a capable coach ready to take his place, Kelly said it was the first time he felt he could feasibly let the whole thing go. Still, Kelly remained highly involved in the Brophy community and focused his efforts on developing the school’s art program.
“In reality, what I do in the studio, teaching sculpture, is more profound,” Kelly said. “I have the opportunity to interact with young people who can lead in the future in many ways.”
Despite no longer being head coach, Kelly was still part of the soccer community as he watched his son, Christian, progress through the program and cheered the team on from the stands.
“I never really stepped away,” said Kelly.
Now, nine years after retiring, Kelly is ready to seize the opportunity to coach again by bringing his refreshed vision and initiatives to the program.
“I look forward with enthusiasm to bringing in my different perspective as I have looked at it over the years, seeing what needs to be tweaked and improved upon and the things I can just allow to flourish,” Kelly said.
He plans to drum up a new sense of student morale and support, something he believes boosts team motivation and acts as a home-field advantage. The coach also wants to reinstate the team’s travel schedule and hopes to add new tournaments and out-of-state challenges to the program.
“It’s a first-class operation all around, with all of the support I could ever want, and there’s no reason for us not to see great success over the coming years,” he said.
This summer, the coach will begin his program with open kickaround nights at the Brophy soccer complex, followed by pre-season speed and strength conditioning for athletes in the fall as they gear up for the 2023 season.