Hunter Kelley became the most recent Sealy athlete to make his commitment to play at the next level and mentioned that although his school choice was fairly simple, it was no foregone conclusion that he was even going to college, let alone play baseball further.
“My dad for sure is happy (I signed) because at first, I wasn’t going to play college baseball, I wanted to go straight to work,” Kelley said. “But I know my family’s proud of me and will support me.”
He went on to explain that the workforce he wanted to jump right into involves installing and maintaining high-voltage power lines, but very few colleges offer programs for that and even less do it while competing in athletics, but it was in that finite group that he found his next home in Pratt, Kansas.
“(Pratt Community College has) a lineman program, that’s what I want to do; be a lineman,” Kelley said. “There’s only like three schools that have it and they were the only ones who offered baseball too.”
So it was determined, and confirmed at last Wednesday’s signing ceremony in the Sealy High School gym foyer, that his next step would be to continue his studies and athletic career, albeit out of state.
“It’ll be different,” he said of journeying away from his home state. “I’m going to have to get used to it because when it’s 90 degrees in Texas, it’s only about 70 in Kansas and all the tornadoes but we’ll get used to it and make the best out of it.”
Kelley certainly made the most out his time in Tiger colors, closing his high school career out with emphasis, earning District 25-4A’s most valuable pitcher and an All-Star selection from the Houston Area Baseball Coaches Association.
He helped his team to the regional quarterfinal in a year that displayed all of his efforts he had put in over the years according to his head coach, Dane Bennett.
“I got to see him grow the past two years and this guy has worked his tail off for this program to allow himself the opportunity to play,” Bennett said. “He had several options on the table but for him to have those opportunities it shows all the hard work he put in.”
Athletic Director Shane Mobley also shared his best wishes for Kelley although he would have liked to see that hard work pay dividends on the gridiron as well.
“No matter how hard we tried we couldn’t get him into other sports but he’s a great teammate,” Mobley said. “I know for his parents, he’s giving himself an opportunity, first and foremost to go to college to get a degree to set that foundation and like I tell everyone else in that chair; go for an education,” he said.
Kelley will join a Pratt Beaver baseball club that finished 26-31 last year, earning a spot in the first round of the Region VI National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament, where they fell to Cowley Tigers two games to one.