By Ray Hamill — Hoopa’s Tommy Kelley isn’t ready to end his playing career just yet. The only question is how many sports he will play at the next level.
The Warriors senior said this week he will try out for the College of the Redwoods baseball team after graduation this year, and is still keeping his options open in football, for now.
“I’m still debating whether I want to play football there as well,” Kelley said. “But I definitely want to play baseball somewhere, and hopefully that’ll be CR.”
Kelley, a two-sport standout for the Warriors, will be going through the registration process over the next couple of weeks and wants to talk to CR head coach Brad Morgan about playing for the Corsairs.
He certainly appears to have the talent and work ethic to contribute, and has grown as a player during his time at Hoopa.
“He loves sports,” said Hoopa baseball head coach John Snell, who has worked closely with the senior over the last two seasons. “He is very serious about it, and he doesn’t mess around at practice.
“He has improved a lot since the end of last year … It’s finally started clicking.”
Kelley says he will talk with his family before making the decision on whether to play football at CR as well, but admits baseball is his first love.
And that same family, including grandfather Nick Shull, has played a big role in Kelley’s baseball career, ever since he first tried out in T-ball.
“My grandfather has kept me interested in the game,” Kelley said. “I grew up watching baseball with him.”
Shull works at College of the Redwoods, which was another factor in Kelley’s decision to try and play there.
The Hoopa senior says he intends on studying in the construction program at CR and hopes to play baseball — and possibly football — for as long as he can.
“I just want to play as much as I can and if it goes further, that’s awesome,” he said.
Kelley played mostly catcher and some outfield in baseball for the Warriors, who were winless last season but were off to an impressive start this spring before the season was canceled due to the coronavirus.
And Kelley says he could see the improvement throughout a senior-heavy team.
“We may not have been winning a lot of games, but we improved a lot (over the last couple of years),” he said.
The Hoopa senior added that his understanding of the game has improved while playing for Snell.
“Under Snell I’ve just learned so much,” he said.
The coach too has noticed the difference.
“He goes out there and he hustles,” Snell said. “He’s a strong kid, and if he works hard he definitely could play (for CR). He’s definitely got the athletic ability to play there.”
As for his time playing sports at Hoopa, Kelley says one moment stood out more than any other.
“I’d say going to the playoffs in football,” he said. “That was my first taste of playing on a winning team in sports. It was awesome.”