ShareThis Page

Baldwin cross country runner Kelly's leadership, versatility recognized with prestigious honor

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Baldwin senior George Kelly, at left, is congratulated by former Steelers receiver Hines Ward.
Positive Athlete Pittsburgh | For The South Hills Record
Baldwin senior George Kelly, at left, is congratulated by former Steelers receiver Hines Ward.

Athletes are often judged by their performances during games or within the confines of their respective sport.

But for one day in late April, 28 local athletes, including Baldwin High School's George Kelly, were awarded for their contributions to the sport outside of simply in-game situations.

On April 20, Kelly was voted Western Pennsylvania's “Most Positive High School Athlete” in boys' cross country by Positive Athlete, an organization founded by former Steelers receiver Hines Ward.

The event took place at the Sen. John Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. For Kelly, a junior cross country and track athlete, it was an honor.

“It was a really incredible day,” he said. “I met some fantastic athletes there with some incredible stories from everybody.”

Kelly, who attended the event with his parents, friends and Baldwin co-cross country coach Rich Wright, had an inspirational story of his own for everyone in attendance.

“The story I told is just that I deal with asthma and it can be a little difficult to run with at times,” Kelly said. “You know, you have to be able to breathe to run. But it's not as bad as what some other people deal with, especially my coach, Bunny (Schmitt), from cross country who's beaten cancer three times, and she's always there for us and smiling and cheering us on.

“Even at times when her illness will keep her from wanting to be there, she'll still solider on and be there for us.”

Kelly was nominated for the award by his coaches.

“He's a tremendous young man,” Wright said. “He's very well-versed. If anyone has a bad race, he's the first one there to warm up or cool down with them. He's always the true, ultimate teammate.”

While positive off-field actions often go overlooked, they have not been glossed over by Ward.

“This is the second year for the Positive High School Athlete Awards, and the stories of our nominees continue to amaze me,” Ward said in a press release. “I was always credited with having a positive influence on my team during my days with the Steelers, but the stories I hear about kids like George really inspire me to be a better person.”

On the track, Kelly is a diverse runner. He participates as a member of the 3,200- and 1,600-meter relay units, as well as running in the 3,200-, 1,600 and 800-meter races, if needed.

Wright credited Kelly with being a team player who the coaches often need to run in different events as each meet draws to a close.

Said Wright, “He's the kind of person you can go to at the last moment and say, ‘Hey, you're not running the 3,200, you're running the 4x400,' or ‘We need you to go out and win the 3,200.' He's very versatile like that.”

Kelly also shows his versatility off the track, as he has a keen interest in playing the guitar, acting, directing and screenwriting. He hopes to major in the arts in college.

While only a junior, Kelly already has shown the leadership abilities of a senior, just another reason to merit his selection as one of the area's most positive athletes.

“I try to do the best I can to help out any of my teammates, whether they are a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior,” Kelly said. “Whatever I can do to help somebody, I'll be there for them.

“To be a leader I think sometimes you're not asked to lead, but you have to just kind step up and do it.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.