Those who know Mark Kelly would best describe him as a mighty “warrior” … a fighter who refuses to give up regardless of the circumstances. Mark has been found to be a staunch supporter in all that is good, fair and noble whether it be decisions made within the confines of his beloved St. Pius X school or decisions that affected all students statewide. His drive for excellence combined with his fighting spirit became the catalyst for the tremendous success experienced by the teams he coached and for his brilliance in leading the entire St. Pius X Golden Lions athletic program to state and even national distinction.
Throughout his career as a coach, teacher and administrator, Kelly received numerous individual awards and honors. Included among these are the State Tennis Coach of the Year (1981), State Basketball Coach of the Year (1991), State All-Star Basketball Head Coach (1995), GADA’s Region Athletic Director of the Year (2010 & 2012). Mark is considered to be the ‘winningest’ basketball coach in St. Pius history (273-11). In 1993, he was named St. Pius X Alumnus of the Year.
Mark’s strong leadership is clearly evident as one considers the accomplishments of the student athletes at St. Pius X during the thirty years under his athletic administrative leadership. During the “Kelly years” student participation in athletics increased from 52% to 87%. The athletic program expanded significantly with the addition of girls’ fast pitch softball, competitive cheerleading, boys’ and girls’ swimming, girls’ golf, and boys’ and girls’ lacrosse. In the first twenty-eight years of the existence of St. Pius, the St. Pius teams hoisted 10 state championship or state runner up banners. In the thirty years with Mark as Director of Athletics the Golden Lions raised 114 of these standards of attainment. In addition, under his tenure St. Pius X was awarded the Georgia Athletic Directors Cup five times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014). This coveted award is presented to schools in each classification in the state considered to have the best overall athletic program. If that were not enough, in 2013 and 2014, out of over 40,000 schools, St. Pius X was awarded the MaxPreps Cup for being the #1 Catholic high school athletic program in the nation.
And yet, Mark has found time to serve in other areas in addition to his responsibilities at Pius. On two occasions, he served as his school’s Region Executive Committee representative and as region secretary numerous times. He has been very active with the American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society. Mark organized and led two Red Cross blood drives a year while at St. Pius X. The school collected an average of 165 units of blood at each of these drives. On one drive 214 units were collected making it the 4th largest Catholic school blood drive in U.S. History. In 2012, Mark organized and led the second largest American Red Cross church (Holy Cross Catholic) blood drive in the history of the United States by accumulating 303 units of blood. He has also given a number of speeches for the American Cancer Society, helping them raise funds for the organization.
One could never deny the ‘warrior’s spirit’ that lies within Kelly. However, his drive and competitive spirit to be his best and bring the best out in those around him never superseded his higher calling of love and devotion to his family and developing lasting friendships. For that we are thankful and congratulate Mark Kelly for being named to GADA’s Hall of Fame class of 2018.