44 tries to reach for the Magis -- every day -- I really do ;-) Then I read about guys like Coaches Kelly and Hurley and realize I could be doing so much more. Like Bob Hurley at St. Anthony High School six blocks away, who was a full time coach and full time probation officer, Mike Kelly is a detective with the Jersey City Police Department and the full time basketball coach at the Jesuit operated St. Peters's Prep. I wonder where he finds the time. I'm certain there are alot of boys in Jersey City who are glad he does.
For the first time, Kelly and Saint Peter's Prep will measure themselves against Hurley and Saint Anthony High School, a game that has created more buzz than any between two city teams in years. They're both a competition," the 47-year-old Kelly said. He is the son of a Jersey City detective, and his buzz-cut hair and Irish features make him look like he came from central casting for "The Wire."
"Getting the bad guy is a big-time game with high stakes, and there's nothing like it," he said. "And winning a big basketball game is pretty special. It's the competition that makes both of them work." Kelly sees the best and worst the city has to offer, sometimes in the same day, and keeping his lives separate is impossible.
His players, half-joking, wonder if he'll reach for the handgun strapped to his ankle if they screw up enough at practice. His detectives will respond with a "Thanks, Coach" if he gets too preachy during a meeting.
"There are times when I don't want to call him about recruiting," said Phil Martelli, the head college coach at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, "because I know he's probably doing something more important than worrying what a 16-year-old kid is thinking about that day."
Martelli is talking about one day in particular: July 16, 2009. A day that put basketball in perspective for Kelly...
(Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger) St. Peter's Prep head coach Mike Kelly in the huddle
with his team during a timeout. Kelly's day job is as the leader of the major case unit
of the Jersey City Police Department.
He's Mike Kelly, and he chases hoop dreams and bad guys, often in the same day New Jersey Real-Time Sports
By Steve Politi/The Star-Ledger
Mike Kelly saw the suspect turn to face him on the dark Jersey City street, reach under his robe and point the shotgun. Then came the loudest noise he had ever heard.
BOOM! -- the first blast shattered the windshield of the unmarked Ford Taurus his partner was driving, riddling the passenger seat where Kelly had been sitting with holes.
Kelly ducked for cover behind a parked van when -- BOOM! -- the second shot ripped through the passenger side door and window, hitting his partner in the leg.
Kelly crouched to the ground and looked for an opening, but could see nothing through the smoke. Then -- BOOM! -- a third shot destroyed the rear window.
His partner managed to speed away down the narrow street, and now Kelly wondered: Was the suspect coming at him with that shotgun? Should he run through the smoke to safety?
Or was he about to hear that noise again?
His other world, the safe haven of a high school basketball court just three blocks down the road, had never seemed farther away.
Is he a competition lover? An adrenaline junkie? Or just plain nuts? Mike Kelly admits the answer might be all three.
It is one thing to be in charge of the major case unit in a police force. It is another entirely to hold that job in Jersey City, second only to Newark in the number of violent crimes statewide.
It is one thing to coach basketball at a school with high expectations. It is another entirely to do it at St. Peter's Prep, just a few blocks from maybe the greatest high school coach ever, Bob Hurley Sr. at St. Anthony.
These are Kelly's two jobs, each requiring a 24/7 commitment, and they'll collide this weekend.
He'll go to his precinct Friday and chase criminals. Then Saturday, six months to the day after the bloodiest shootout of his career, he'll bring his basketball team to the Jersey City Armory and chase a legend.
For the first time, Kelly and St. Peter's Prep will measure themselves against Hurley and St. Anthony, a game that has created more buzz than any between two city teams in years.
"They're both a competition," the 47-year-old Kelly said. He is the son of a Jersey City detective, and his buzz-cut hair and Irish features make him look like he came from central casting for "The Wire."
"Getting the bad guy is a big-time game with high stakes, and there's nothing like it," he said. "And winning a big basketball game is pretty special. It's the competition that makes both of them work." (click title for the entire article)