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Interhall Insider: Brothers Kelly lead Ramblers

Molly Sammon | Friday, November 21, 2008

For most players and coaches, the Interhall Championship is just a chance to play a little competitive football, but for the three Kelly brothers, its a family affair.

As Siegfried’s offensive coordinator, coach Rob Kelly oversees both of his younger brothers, senior team captain and tight end, Kevin, and sophomore defensive tackle, Patrick.

“It is humbling,” Rob Kelly said of coaching his younger siblings. “My first attempt at coaching was with 4-year-olds and I’ve found there are a lot of similarities between 4-year-olds and college students.”

Coincidentally, Siegfried’s head coach, P.J. Zimmer, asked Rob Kelly to help him out with coaching this season, at the same time that the youngest brother, Patrick, a recent transfer from Holy Cross College, was pulled into Siegfried and decided to go out for the team as well.

With both returning senior Kevin and newly-recruited Patrick trying out for the team, Rob found himself in a tough situation.

“I had to take myself out of that decision,” Rob said. “I certainly had a conflict of interest.”

But both made the team, and therefore, The Ramblers’ Kelly Trio was formed.

“The fact that [my coach] is my brother made it a little awkward at first,” Kevin Kelly said. “But he is really good at inspiring and being the devil’s advocate on the team.”

Initially, Rob didn’t share his brothers’ enthusiasm for football, but over time took to the sport.

“I was more interested in scholarly competitions in high school,” Rob said. “I fell in love with football by the time I came to Notre Dame.”

As a member of the class of 2003, Rob graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering and management, and currently works at Notre Dame as the director of procurement services.

But in offensive coordination, Rob found an area of football strategy where he had passion and expertise, despite never playing organized football.

“Coach Zimmer is the real offensive architect, but I bring the critical eye,” Rob said. “This is an aspect of football that I can really get myself into, the intellectual component.”

In contrast to their older brother, both Kevin and Patrick played together at Addison High School, a small public school in their southern Michigan town.

“It was an island for me,” said Kevin of being the trailblazer of the family’s football participation. “All the team dinners and the summer practices, they were a new venture for me.”

The brothers all agree that having family members on campus and alongside on the playing field changed their collegiate experiences for the better.

“It’s more relaxed now,” Kevin said. “You always have someone to go to when you need something.”

Quintessential of the Notre Dame culture of tradition in both family and football, Rob, Kevin, and Patrick will be representing both as the Interhall Championship game approaches this Sunday.

“I left Notre Dame, but found my way back,” Rob said. “I always find it providential that we ended up back here.”