While most students were enjoying their summer break away from school, Jonathan Kelly spent it juggling work, class and, most importantly, training for the upcoming basketball season.
“We don’t really have off-season conditioning as a team or what not,” Kelly said. “But with my conditioning coach, (Javier Perez, who is now at the University of Central Florida) I worked out Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.”
According to Kelly, his weakest point on the basketball court is defense. That is what he spent most of his time working on; however, he also did weight training and worked on his ball handling skills. His weight-training program included doing a higher number of repetitions to increase his endurance. He also said he improved his three-point shooting by taking 300 to 400 jump shots a day. Kelly said it’s drills like these that will help him be able to shoot well in the fourth quarter when he’s tired.
The junior broadcast journalism student, of Tallahassee, said because of his off-season workout, regular workouts are now easier for him to get adjusted to.
“I did a lot of work on my (ball) handles so in case I have to play any guard position I will be ready, whether point, shooting, small forward, any position,” he said.
With all those long hours in the gym and on the court, Kelly also worked as a sales associate in the pet department at Wal-Mart. But due to the demand of a five-day 40-hour work schedule, he said he was unable to balance his job and work out three times a week for three hours a day. So, he quit his job.
During the summer, he also paid attention to his body, with his coach making it a goal to gain weight. After his intense workout regiment Kelly said he drank protein shakes to put nutrients back in his body.
FAMU Head Coach Mike Gillespie also wanted Kelly to be a more consistent three-point shooter.
“The program shows improvement, and we are looking for him to step up this year,” Gillespie said. “Kelly is a terrific student, wonderful young man, it is John’s turn to step up and take the important role on the team.”
Even Kelly’s teammates have noticed his improvement.
“Kelly is a good friend, teammate and hard worker,” teammate Mike Sams said. “He is more assertive, more aggressive. His game has improved.”
“We worked on a 14-week weight program to increase strength. Jonathan took to it really well, he really improved,” said teammate Brian Zamore.
Zamore also added that Kelly has been a leader on the court since his freshman year.
“He has yet to realize his potential,” Zamore said.
Last year, the Rattlers won the MEAC Championship, which earned them a spot in the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament.
They were the only team to have a less than .500 record, but that didn’t matter as they beat Lehigh University in the play-in game in Dayton, Ohio.
Kelly said people called him before the play-in game doubting the venom of the Rattlers. After the first victory, the calls didn’t stop as they traveled to Columbus, Ohio for the first round against top-seeded University of Kentucky.
Although they lost, Kelly was satisfied with how the game ended and eager to prepare for next season. His expectations are high.
With such a commitment to improving his game Kelly also captured a ‘no fear’ attitude and boosted his confidence.
“We will go to the second round of the NCAA tournament and win the MEAC Championship,” Kelly said.
Contact gabrielle brinson and daana burnette at email@example.com