Like mother like daugh­ter

Old Per­li­can teen fol­lows mom’s foot­steps in volleyball


Na­dine Kelly of Old Per­li­can says it’s been a big jump go­ing from high school play to train­ing with Me­mo­rial Uni­ver­sity’s women’s volleyball team. But if she has any ques­tions, mom is only a phone call away.

Na­dine’s mother, Joan Kelly, was a mem­ber of the Sea-Hawks in the early 1980s, help­ing the team win an At­lantic uni­ver­si­ties cham­pi­onship in 1981.

A first year en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent at MUN, Na­dine says she was al­ways around volleyball as a child. She can re­mem­ber be­ing in ele­men­tary school when her mother was coach of the high school team at the for­mer North Shore Col­le­giate in North­ern Bay, where Na­dine would sit in on prac­tices and watch the play­ers work with mom.

“My kids who I was coach­ing would take care of her,” says Joan. “She’d go get wa­ter or just be the lit­tle star on the bench with all these older kids who gave her lots of at­ten­tion. She en­joyed that.”

By Grade 6, Joan was coach­ing her own daugh­ter.

“Ever since then, I’ve re­ally liked it, and I’ve kept play­ing,” says Na­dine, now 18.

Her play in high school earned her ac­co­lades, in­clud­ing the fe­male ath­lete of the year award last year at Bac­calieu Col­le­giate. Joan now teaches at that school, and coached her daugh­ter through most of ju­nior and se­nior high school.

“I didn’t find it too bad,” says Na­dine of hav­ing her mother as a coach. “ I kind of found it good ... it was com­fort­ing hav­ing some­one you knew as a coach.”

Na­dine also played soc­cer in St. John’s dur­ing the sum­mer, took swim­ming lessons, fig­ure skated in Har­bour Grace, played bad­minton and floor hockey at school, and com­peted in biathlon through cadets.

Joan, who was known as Joan Buck dur­ing her own play­ing days at MUN, grew up in St. John’s, and played a va­ri­ety of high school sports, in­clud­ing bad­minton, field hockey, and volleyball. She made the 1979 Canada Win­ter Games team that com­peted in Bran­don, Man., and be­gan to play with some mem­bers of the MUN team around that time. Joan was also a mem­ber of the ju­nior na­tional team in 1980 and 1981.

Grow­ing up, Na­dine says she was aware her mother’s his­tory with MUN volleyball, and knew she was good, but since join­ing the uni­ver­sity club and hear­ing a few sto­ries about Joan’s play­ing days, she has a new­found ap­pre­ci­a­tion for mom’s ca­reer. The At­lantic Uni­ver­sity Sport ti­tle in 1981 was a par­tic­u­larly note­wor­thy achieve­ment, as it re­mains one of three ti­tles claimed by the women’s team in 50 years of play.

“Af­ter com­ing to MUN and hear­ing a few sto­ries, I re­al­ized she was a lot bet­ter than she let on.”

Af­ter fin­ish­ing high school, Na­dine knew she wanted to keep on play­ing, and rec­og­nized MUN pre­sented a solid op­tion for do­ing so. This sea­son she’s a red-shirted mem­ber of the team, which means Na­dine trains with the team but does not play in games or travel with the club. This des­ig­na­tion means she will not lose a year of el­i­gi­bil­ity to play.

“ We still get the ex­pe­ri­ence of train­ing and get­ting bet­ter,” she says. Hard work The train­ing re­quired to play up to the stan­dards of her team­mates has been an ad­just­ment for the five-foot­nine Na­dine, who got a head start by trav­el­ling from Old Per­li­can to St. John’s over the sum­mer to prac­tice with the team.

“I think that helped a lot, be­cause it gave me a bet­ter idea of what was ex­pected, and of how things went in here,” says Na­dine, who did not know many of her fel­low team­mates prior to join­ing the MUN squad.

Joan says it’s hard to com­pare Na­dine’s abil­i­ties to her own at the same age, as the level of play is likely higher than it was when she at­tended MUN, where she com­pleted stud­ies in phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion.

“ The only thing was I played in St. John’s at a big­ger school. We were play­ing in tour­na­ments ev­ery sec­ond week­end. We trav­elled to Nova Sco­tia and out west, so I kind of had more ex­pe­ri­ence un­der my belt at the same age as Na­dine is.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, Joan com­pleted high school two full years aheard of Na­dine at the age of 16.

Down the road, there may even be an­other mem­ber of the Kelly clan to draw com­par­isons with. Na­dine’s brother Aaron is a six-foot-five volleyball player who is now in Grade 11 at Bac­calieu Col­le­giate. He was of­fered a spot on a pro­vin­cial team last year but was un­able to join due to cadet com­mit­ments. Joan says he hopes to con­tinue play­ing volleyball be­yond high school.

When she was a player, Joan says there was a need to fo­cus on both de­fen­sive and of­fen­sive skills, but in to­day’s game, there are more spe­cial­ized roles, plac­ing more em­pha­sis on de­vel­op­ing in­di­vid­ual skills.

Play­ing volleyball at MUN helped mo­ti­vate Joan to suc­ceed in school, and also played a role in her de­ci­sion to pur­sue a ma­jor in phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion. If any­thing, she says her daugh­ter faces a greater chal­lenge by tack­ling en­gi­neer­ing while also tak­ing part in var­sity sports. This se­mes­ter, Na­dine is tak­ing six cour­ses, and un­like Joan, who was able to live at home with her par­ents while at­tend­ing uni­ver­sity, she is re­spon­si­ble for look­ing af­ter her­self.

While Joan will have to wait un­til next sea­son to watch her daugh­ter play for MUN, she says it’s a moment she will look for­ward to.

“I’ll be there with bells and whis­tles on to cheer her on and en­cour­age her, I guess the same as when she played here at Bac­calieu Col­le­giate with our school team.”

Joan is also pleased to know Na­dine will get to hone her skills un­der the watch of coach Bill This­tle, who was Joan’s coach dur­ing her own play­ing days at MUN.

“I re­ally think he did so much for me as a player that was phe­nom­e­nal, and prob­a­bly not al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated at that time 30 years ago,” says Joan. “I think he’s do­ing the same with Na­dine and these play­ers to­day, and to think she has that op­por­tu­nity — it amazes me.”

Na­dine Kelly spikes the ball dur­ing a prac­tice with the Me­mo­rial Uni­ver­sity women’s volleyball team. The first-year en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent from Old Per­li­can is fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of her mother, Joan Kelly, who played for MUN 30 years ago.

Joan Kelly was known as Joan Buck dur­ing her play­ing days with the MUN women’s volleyball team, seen here pos­ing for a team photo from 1980. Joan’s daugh­ter, Na­dine Kelly, is now in her first year with the Sea-Hawks.

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