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.”
Posted on April 11, 2019 in Coach Advice
When doing research in the recruiting process for my daughter I came across the LRT Sports website. I was immediately intrigued as this was another dimension of the recruiting process that many people don't even consider. My daughter and I could "short list" schools based on the education she was looking for, as well as the opportunity to play her sport. LRT Sports not only gave us pertinent information into the recruiting process with different interviews of coaches and players, it also gave us insight into current and/or former players' opinions on the coach of that school in her sport. We could use this information to re-prioritize my daughters list of schools based on this feedback. I have many friends that are, or will be, going through this process shortly and I highly recommend using LRT Sports as part of anyone's recruiting process.
The college process presents a myriad of challenges. Factor in athletics and it becomes even more daunting. Now, add the fact that you have zero experience with sports. What is a the mother of a college bound student-athlete to do? LRT Sports has truly lived up to its promise. It has kept "the college recruiting process honest and easy by providing first hand information about coaches, schools and the recruiting process." Their interviews with current students, coaches, and professional athletes have provided realistic guidance. I am much more informed because of LRT Sports! The coach ratings are the most helpful. LRT Sports interviews allow us to hear from students as to how the adults are impacting not only their athletic experience but also how they are helping to shape their adult self.
The C.A.L.C. was thrilled to have Keirsten Sires come and speak to us on multiple topics relevant to high school athletics today, including recruiting. Keirsten reached all of our students and left them with great strategies that will not only help on the fields, courts, and mats, but also in the game of recruiting. She was a true professional and delivered a wonderful message.
Now that the recruiting process and the related stress is over, I wanted to thank you for your guidance. You did so much more than we had expected. Once you started the process by matching the best academic schools first, not the best sport programs, I knew you were the one. The way you laid out a timeline of contacting coaches, visits, and camps completely took any guesswork out of the plan for us. All of the student athletes that you put us in touch with gave us a look from the inside, and made us more comfortable knowing what was coming. Finally, using your website as a resource for knowing what to expect from different coaches based on former recruit reviews gave my son confidence before our meetings. There is no way we could have figured this out on our own, you really put us in a great position when decision time came.
I think hearing from other athletes is very beneficial. To be able to learn from people’s mistakes, and to be able to have access to those voices is really helpful; especially voices that have been there and done that. It’s very important for people to have access to information that could benefit them, and in this case there are many voices that can help the next wave of athletes.
If you have something that’s going to spell [the recruiting process] out for you… it’s so valuable. I think what everyone at LRT Sports is doing to spread the word and help advocate and educate athletes on the recruitment process is incredible.
Without question would have used LRT Sports. It would have probably been one of the most valuable tools that I could have had. If you want to know what these coaches are really like then I think this is the best tool out there. I’m really glad you are allowing recruits to have a resource like this moving forward.