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April 11, 2019

Providence Ice Hockey Coach Matt Kelly Talks Playing at The Next Level

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Matt Kelly just rounded out his first season as the Head Coach of the Division 1 Women’s Ice Hockey team at Providence College, leading them to a 16-9-2 record in Hockey East. Before joining the Friars, Kelly served as the Head Scout for USA Hockey and the Women’s National Team. During his time with USA Hockey, Kelly won eleven gold medals. He was responsible for maintaining the player selections for both the U-18 and U-22 teams. Before stepping into his role with USA Hockey Coach Kelly was the assistant Coach at Clarkson University, where the team captured the National Championship in 2014. At Clarkson, Kelly recruited many high-profile players including a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Winner, 10 Patty Kaz nominees and two ECAC players of the year. Coach Matt Kelly has years of experience working with, coaching and recruiting great players and students, and we had the chance to ask him to share some of his knowledge!

LRT Sports: What advice would you give to a high school athlete looking to play at the next level?

Coach Kelly: “Keep improving your foundation skills for the sport you play.  Start focusing on strength and conditioning. Don’t overlook the mental side of the game and try to improve your mind so you get comfortable performing in uncomfortable situations.”

LRT Sports: What is the most important qualities you look for in an athlete you are recruiting? What is a big turn off that an athlete can do to get off your radar?

Coach Kelly: “Most important quality is work ethic and how dedicated they are to improving their craft.  I like players that work with skill coaches or get extra ice to work on their game during the off season and during the season.”  

Being a bad teammate or a selfish hockey player is a big turn off.  When I go recruiting, I like to see players body language and how the react to their mistakes and their teammates mistakes.”

LRT Sports: What in the number one piece of advice that you can offer a potential recruit when it comes to official visits?

Coach Kelly: “When it comes to official visits usually those recruits have already narrowed down their choices.  So, when they get to campus, I usually try to encourage them to meet everyone on the team and throw themselves into our culture so they can get a good feeling of whether or not they could see themselves being a part of our program for four years.  I also try to encourage them to be themselves and ask many questions.”

LRT Sports: When is the right age to start contacting coaches and how should they contact you? Phone, email, social media etc.?

Coach Kelly: “With the new NCAA rules going into effect this Spring.  Recruits will not be able to talk with us until their Junior year of high school.  But before that rules goes into players should reach out once they are in high school.   They can reach out with emails and phone calls.”

LRT Sports: Would you say committing too early is an issue for the student-athlete? Why or why not?

Coach Kelly: “I think as long as the student-athlete and their parents are doing their due diligence there are no issues.  Many young student-athletes have enjoyed getting the process done so then they can focus on their grades and sport development and don’t have those stressors later down the road.”

LRT Sports: What are some of the qualities that make your high achieving athletes successful? Is there a quality that they have that separates them from the rest?

Coach Kelly: “Motivated on and off the ice.  They are students of the game. Enthusiastic about coming to the rink every day.  Being able to be at their best under pressure. Control the controllable.”

LRT Sports: How important is academic success to the recruiting process? What is the average ACT/SAT/GPA that you look for?

Coach Kelly: “It’s very important.  I think the recruit that takes care of business in the classroom usually is going to be successful on the ice as well.”  

LRT Sports: How active should parents be in the recruiting process; do you want to hear from them or the athlete?

Coach Kelly: “I want to hear from both.  I want to be able to communicate and form a relationship with the recruits and parents.  The parents are sending their child to play for us so they need to be comfortable with me and how I coach and teach.”

LRT Sports: What is the best piece of advice that you give to a current college athlete?

Coach Kelly: “Be an incredible teammate.  You’re a part of something bigger than yourself.”