After 25 years of traveling, Keith Kelley has returned to the place that started his coaching career.
Kelley finalized his paper work two weeks ago to become the next head coach of the Vinton High School boys’ basketball team.
“Your fist job is your first love, and Vinton has always had a soft spot in my heart,” Kelley said. “When Mr. Heinen let me know the position was available, we talked and I knew it was a good fit.”
Kelley coached the Lions from 1991 to 1994, leading them to the regional round of the Class 2A playoffs in 1992. In fact, Vinton High School principal Eric Heinen played for Kelley during his first stint at Vinton, as did current head baseball coach Jason Tharp.
“There was way too many positives things and old friends telling me to come back,” Kelley said.
After leaving Vinton in 1994, Kelley was the head coach at three different schools over the next 14 years including seven at St. Louis Catholic, three at Hamilton Christian Academy, and four at Willis High School in Texas.
He stepped away from coaching and spent four years as the athletic director at Hopkins High School in Kentucky before the desire to coach again and illness in the family became too much to hold back.
He got back into coaching with the help of his old college basketball coach Glenn Duhon, who was the head coach at McNeese State University during his playing years (1984-1988) and is currently the head coach at Johnson Bayou High School. He took the head coach job at Hackberry High School, leading the Mustangs to two straight playoff appearances, before spending last season at Lacassine High School.
“We had some illnesses in my wife’s family and we were trying to get back,” Kelley said. “Coach Duhon told me about the Hackberry deal and he encouraged me to come back.
“It was a really good job and good people. When I came back I wanted to get back into coaching.”
Kelley is originally from Westlake where he graduated in 1983. He graduated from McNeese State University in 1990 with a degree in Health and Physical Education.
Kelley plans to run an aggressive defense and offense and is excited for the upcoming season.
“I am aggressive,” Kelley said. “We want to play fast and aggressive on defense.
“In a perfect world, I like to press every possession and run a motion offense every play. We did that the first go around at Vinton and I think that same style will fit with the kids we have now.
“We practiced and played through month of June. We had a really good summer. We got a lot of the fundaments down. We got some things established and it should help us when the season begins. I am excited about our potential.”
The Lions went 9-18 last year, losing to Sophie B. Wright 72-41 in the first round, in their only season under Rickie Dixon.