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On or off the mat, senior wrestler’s teammates are his ‘family’

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On or off the mat, senior wrestler’s teammates are his ‘family’

Jack Kelley raises his arm in triumph after winning a match in the the Merrimack Duals. He and the team trained for a month preparing for this meet.

Jack Kelley raises his arm in triumph after winning a match in the the Merrimack Duals. He and the team trained for a month preparing for this meet.

Photo by Christine O’ Loughlin

Jack Kelley raises his arm in triumph after winning a match in the the Merrimack Duals. He and the team trained for a month preparing for this meet.

Photo by Christine O’ Loughlin

Photo by Christine O’ Loughlin

Jack Kelley raises his arm in triumph after winning a match in the the Merrimack Duals. He and the team trained for a month preparing for this meet.

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For senior Jack Kelley, wrestling is more than a sport. To him, it’s a family.

“We’ve all just gotten so close, with the amount of time and effort that was put in over the years to constantly get better,” Kelley said. “The team always worked on not just being good wrestlers, but good people too. The sport just brought us all together, and I consider all those boys on the team my family.”

Kelley’s, love for the sport of wrestling began when he was seven or eight-years-old, and wrestled for just a few weeks at the YMCA.

But it is his brother Patrick, a wrestler himself, who has been the biggest influence on him and his wrestling ever since a young age.

“[My brother] has been wrestling since like the first grade and he kinda taught me the basics of not being a wuss,” Kelley said. “He gave me a better understanding of what it’s like to get knocked down repeatedly and to get back up afterwards.”

Kelley always admired everything that wrestling brought to the table, from the aggressive mentality of the competitors to the atmosphere that the crowd creates. He said that love started ever since he was young, but never really got to experience it until his sophomore year.

“The first time I ever wrestled for the high school was pretty nerve-wracking,” Kelley said. “It was at the Salem Blue Devil Classic, which was a challenging tournament for a first time wrestler. Then from that point on, I kind of had that drive to always get better and beat harder opponents because I just loved the intensity of wrestling.”

Photo by Christine O’ Loughlin
The LHS Varsity wrestling team gathers together before the Merrimack Duals. They went on to take a tough defeat later that afternoon.

Over his three years of true wrestling, Kelley has made many memories during his time competing for LHS. Maybe his most special memory was senior night.

“It was definitely my favorite part of all three years,” Kelley said. “All of my closest friends were with me for one last time to be recognized for all the countless work that they have put in over their time here.”

Kelley has evolved into one of the leaders of the LHS wrestling program, and as a senior had the opportunity to submit a paper as to why he wants be be a senior captain. Instead, he decided not to and chose to lead by example, rather than with his words.

“I had the opportunity to become a captain but chose not to,” Kelley said. “I felt like I can be more beneficial to the team by leading in the back and doing everything I can to help rather leading the team and having a label. My role as a leader is to basically just set the best example I can for the underclassmen.”

Senior captain Vince Del Signore said that Kelley has a lot to bring to this team even though he is not a captain.

Photo by Christine O’ Loughlin
Senior Jack Kelley gets ready to pin his opponent in the New Fairfield Duals in Connecticut. Londonderry eventually went on to take the victory via team score.

“Jack adds a great element to the team and always helps out his teammates with everything,” Del Signore said. “ He’s a reliable guy all around and he brings an awesome vibe to our team.”  

With being a senior comes a lot of responsibility for Kelley. Times can be hard he said, with all the adversity that the team has faced.

“People quit, people get sick, discouraged, all of that,” Kelley said. “We’ve had a lot of adversity on this team. We went from being the biggest team we’ve ever had last year, to the smallest team we’ve ever had this year, so I guess the underclassmen who quit didn’t really have that aggressive mentality and desire to commit to a team for a full year.”

Although Kelley has such a deep love for the sport of wrestling, he says he has no plans to continue his athletic career in the future. Kelley appreciates all that the sport has done for him, but just isn’t interested in the next level of wrestling.  

“The next level kids are another breed,” Kelley said. “I’m just not interested in wrestling at that level.”

Moving on from something that you love can be tough. For Kelley, it is going to be extremely difficult.

“To be real, it’s actually really sad for me because the sport has done so much for me, “ Kelley said. “It has taught me how to be a better person and has given me a second family. I’m leaving my brothers which sucks, but I’ll always have a place for wrestling in my heart.”  

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On or off the mat, senior wrestler’s teammates are his ‘family’