UPDATED: Kevin Kelly's job as Blanchard girls basketball coach is open
Blanchard girls basketball coach Kevin Kelly and superintendent Jim Beckham agree: Kelly hasn’t been fired and hasn’t resigned.
But Kelly told The Oklahoman on Monday that the Blanchard administration has opened his position up for applications.
The Lions were 23-4 in 2011-12, Kelly’s fourth season, during which the team went on an 18-game win streak and made a Class 4A area tournament appearance.
Beckham said he can’t comment on personnel issues, but that Kelly has not been dismissed and hasn’t quit.
Kelly, 32, is still teaching at Blanchard and echoed Beckham’s statement that he hasn’t been fired, but said he was called into the superintendent’s office shortly after the Lions’ season-ending loss to Cushing.
“I was told that expectations were not met, and they were opening my job up,” Kelly said.
Beckham wouldn’t confirm or deny if that conversation took place.
Kelly, originally from Plano, Texas, has spent six years at Blanchard; the last four as the girls’ head coach. Kelly went 72-35 during that run. Blanchard has not sent a girls’ basketball team to the state tournament in the five-on-five era.
Kelly was named the Canadian Valley Conference’s Coach of the Year for the last two seasons, and will coach the Middle West team at the Oklahoma Girls’ Basketball Coaches Association All-State games on June 2 in Weatherford.
“I’ve had parent complaints about me being too tough on the kids,” Kelly said. “I challenged them not only basketball-wise, but mentally and physically.
“I’ve been there six years, and (parents) have complained that whole time. I coach with tough love. When it comes down to it, I’m a young guy with old-school values. Sometimes parents don’t see it that way.”
During the 2011-12 season, Kelly’s team made headlines for its 18-game winning streak, which lasted from late December until back-to-back playoff losses that ended its season.
The Lions’ season-ending defeat was the toughest to swallow. Blanchard led Cushing by 7 points with 45 seconds left, but lost 40-39 in regulation.
“I’ll never get over how we lost our last basketball game,” Kelly said. “I’ll move on from it, but I don’t think I’ll ever get over that one.”
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