All future East Catholic Eagles will now see Jude Kelly’s name displayed prominently near the practice field.
A sign marking “Jude Kelly Way” stands proudly in front of the hill that the former coach would make his players run during conditioning.
“This hill taught us about facing adversity and all those life lessons that Coach Kelly taught us,” said East Catholic grad Aaron Alibrio.
Coach Kelly retired in March after a 46-year coaching career with stops at East Catholic, Southington, St. Paul, and Southern Connecticut State University. His first head coaching experience came at East Catholic where he led the Eagles to three state titles in 1983, 1986, and 1987.
“It’s kind of neat to have a sign there with it, but the sign is the hard work that these fellas put in playing football here,” said Kelly. “That’s a steep, steep climb down and it wasn’t easy.”
Over the years, the hill became overgrown. East Catholic was able to clear the path this year.
Kelly, joined by a bunch of his former players, decided to give it a shot to see what his players used to experience.
“The thing he teaches most is how to be a teammate,” said East Catholic President Sean Brennan.
The name of the hill not only recognizes Kelly’s contributions to the program but also serves a reminder of what it takes to succeed.
“Jude Kelly Way - and that’s intentional because Jude Kelly has a way about him that’s slightly different – or very different – than I’ve ever seen,” said Brennan. “He’s a tremendous coach who cares deeply about his kids.”