A 6-foot-2-inch, 215-pound attack from Byfield, Matt Kelly closed out his career with 88 goals, the second highest total in the five-year history of the Beloit program. He also is third in career points with 115. Kelly helped Beloit, his father’s Wisconsin alma mater and a team that plays in the NCAA’s Division 3, to a 10-6 overall record and 7-1 mark in the Midwest Lacrosse Conference as a senior. He was a captain in soccer and lacrosse as a Triton senior. He majored in geology at Beloit.
Q. When did you first start playing lacrosse?
A. I was in second grade and lacrosse was pretty new, and one of my best friend’s dads was the coach. He told my dad I should come play and try out. I think I scored the first time I caught the ball, the first time I touched the ball actually. I think my dad has it on an old school camcorder and he’s saying, ‘I think Matt has the ball. I think Matt just scored.’ They didn’t know what lacrosse was and I didn’t, either. From then on, I started playing attack and I’ve been doing that ever since.
Q. Do you still have the short hair and the very full red beard like in your photo on the team’s website?
A. Same setup. It started as a competition between me and one of my redhead friends on the team – Brendan Fitzgerald who’s from Duxbury — to see who could grow a beard a year ago in the fall. We kept it going to see who could grow it the longest without shaving and I won. We did some funny things with it. Our coach put on a “Fear the Beard” day for one of our games. He got beards and everyone in the stands wore them. You don’t see two big redhead bearded men running around out there too often. I think it gave us a little respect on the field. A little intimidation factor can’t hurt.
Q. What was the bet?
A. We were going to go to the steakhouse downtown. Whoever lost was going to buy the steak dinner. He kept up his end of the bargain.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received from a coach?
A. I would say it’s pretty applicable in any sport: Watch the ball. Watch it into your hands or into your stick or whatever. In lacrosse, you’ve got to catch the ball before you can do anything else, especially in close to the goal. If you pick your head up and look where you want to shoot it and don’t catch it, it’s not good. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was look it in the whole way and good things will happen from there. You see NFL guys pick their head up too early and drop the ball.
Q. What’s your favorite place to visit in New England?
A. We have a lake house at Lake Elmore in northern Vermont. We do a lot of boating and barbecuing there.
Q. What do you do for hobbies away from lacrosse?
A. I do a fair amount of boating and I work as a clam digger. I bought a boat for that and then ended up buying a bigger boat and some friends and I go out and do some fishing. I do my clam digging in Newbury in the Parker River.
Q. Do you dig clams more for fun or for work?
A. Honestly, it’s a little of both. It’s pretty lucrative in the summer. It’s hard work, but if you work hard, it pays off well.
Q. How do you plan to use your geology degree?
A. I’m coming back to Massachusetts and I plan to apply to some environmental consulting agencies. There tend to be a lot of those in Massachusetts. I’ll do clam-digging for the summer at least. I can keep my beard. I’m a self-employed commercial fisherman and there are no regulations. But honestly, the beard is pretty hot in the summer.
Q. What do you like best about lacrosse?
A. It’s a fast-paced game and I love that it’s physical. It just turned out be my best sport. We did these senior stories the last couple of weeks of the season, and all the seniors would give little talks to the team. I’ve been playing lacrosse a long time and been I’ve been going to lacrosse camps and playing fall ball every fall and it was hitting me. It’s going to be different to not have lacrosse.Allen Lessels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.