It’s hard to believe, but Denver Outlaws goalie Jack Kelly was once the backup goalie for his high school lacrosse team. Because of that, Kelly decided to further his education — and lacrosse career — at Brown University, where he would experience a magical run in his junior season as the Brown Bears would advance to the NCAA Semifinals before ultimately losing 15-14 against Quinnipac in overtime.
Kelly would earn first-team All American honors after leading the nation with a 60.6 save percentage, and ultimately finished his time at Brown with 673 saves — a school record.
Kelly was drafted by the Denver Outlaws in the seventh round (57th overall) of the 2016 MLL Collegiate Draft, and although his rookie season would start off rocky, he would turn things around to play a key role in the Outlaws’ 2016 MLL Championship run — claiming the MLL Rookie of the Year award, and winning the MLL championship in comeback fashion over the Ohio Machine.
The Outlaws’ ability to field a highly-skilled team on a yearly basis has built them a reputation as the league’s ‘gold-standard’. Kelly says that’s no accident. “I think [it’s] just consistency from the front office in the organization. Everyone has just been so great at their job, and they do the best job in the league. So the consistency from that end kind of transfers onto the field,” Kelly said. “It’s funny, because the rosters change over so many players each year, but recently, we have been able to find guys to fill those voids and just [continue to get] better towards the end of the year. That consistency, even when players turn over, is just special.”
With two professional lacrosse teams in town, a powerhouse college lacrosse team in the Denver Pioneers, and a competitive high school scene, Colorado has rightfully earned a reputation as a new and Western hotbed for lacrosse talent. As young players continue to take top the sport all over the state, Kelly has some sound advice for them.
“Just put the time into it, and the results will come. I guess specifically for lacrosse players, playing other sports is huge. There are so many things from baseball and hockey that really translate to the lacrosse field, [and] I see a lot of specialization in kids just playing lacrosse, and even more specialized from just playing one position on the field,” Kelly said. “So I think that hurts, but you really want to just put the time in, watching other sports and taking things from other sports and incorporating it into your game, and just putting the time and effort. It will come.”
(Video courtesy of MLL/YouTube)
Heading into any new season, there will always be new challenges, so preparation in the offseason is key. Following last season’s championship-game loss to Ohio, Kelly looks to improve himself in order to get back to that game for another shot. “That last loss really stings, but for me personally, flexibility is a huge part of my game. Obviously, strength training is all on your own, but flexibility is huge for me. So staying fit on that front is number one for me.”
With the Outlaws returning many players from last season — along with some new faces — they look to be primed for another championship run. “Seeing the team change year from year is really fun, especially for training camp with new guys that you have never met before, and guys looking to make the team who you have never played [with] before. [Then] midway through the season, other college guys as well,” Kelly said. “Just putting in the effort and the hard work and putting a good product on the field is something that fans can expect — and hopefully we can get [to] that final game and win it this year.”