He was headed in a different career direction than dad George, who spent many years on the Rocky Mount sidelines before becoming head coach of the Gryphons. The elder Kelley was Rocky Mount's head coach for 10 seasons.
But a request from a friend changed everything.
That friend asked him to come out and help volunteer coach the team at South Granville. That experience did the trick. The coaching bug finally bit him.
After going back to school to get certified to teach, Kelley joined the coaching staff at South Granville. He also later served as the athletic director there.