October 30, 2004
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Indiana Hoosiers lost a close member of their family as former soccer player and coach Joe Kelley lost his battle with cancer on Saturday morning, October 30.
Kelley will most be remembered as the first head coach of the women's soccer program. He led the Hoosiers in their first nine seasons of play as a varsity squad, eight in the Big Ten Conference, compiling a 77-71-9 record. Under his guidance, the Hoosiers made two NCAA tournament appearances (1996, 1998), as well as won the school's only Big Ten Championship in 1996. The 1998 Cream and Crimson squad finished with a school record 14-8-1 mark and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
He went on to coach 51 Academic All-Big Ten student-athletes, 12 All-Big Ten performers, seven All-Region selections and one All-America Honorable Mention nominee.
Kelley started his quest for women's soccer to gain varsity status in 1977, when he worked closely with the Indiana women's club team. He was named head coach of the club in 1982 and served in that capacity for three seasons, posting a 65-7-4 record, including a 7-1-1 mark against varsity teams.
His responsibilities included conducting all practice sessions, developing and implementing strategy, scheduling, recruiting, purchasing equipment, facility coordinating and travel planning. His will for IU women's soccer to gain varsity status was so strong that in 1983, he made a formal presentation to the athletics committee to gain varsity status. Part of his presentation included a petition with over 10,000 signatures of students in favor for the addition of the sport.
Kelley stayed on as a staff advisor to the women's club team from 1986-1992, when Indiana officially added women's soccer as a varsity sport.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Kelley served as an assistant coach on the men's team for 14 years under legendary former coach Jerry Yeagley, serving as an assistant coach from 1978-1980 and again in 1982-1992. His responsibilities included on the field preparation as well as recruiting coordinator. He was instrumental in three Hoosier national championship teams (1982, 1983, 1988), as well as the recruitment of 23 high school All-Americans in that span.
As a student-athlete, Kelley transferred to Indiana following a successful playing career at Meramec Community College, where he garnered All-America accolades in 1974. He went on to become a key member of the 1975 team as a midfielder posting six points on two goals and two assists. Indiana finished the year at 13-3-1.
He would only play one more game in a Cream and Crimson uniform. A serious knee injury forced him to redshirt the 1976 season, and that injury held him to just one match during the 1977 campaign.
"Joe was one of the most skillful players ever to put on the IU uniform," said Yeagley. " He was one of the most intelligent players that I ever coached, and that is why we asked him to join our coaching staff. He was an outstanding teacher of the game and a great recruiter. He definitely left a legacy with Indiana soccer. He will certainly be missed by the IU Soccer family."
Kelley rebounded from his ordeal in 1979 to play one season for the Indianapolis Daredevils of the North American Soccer League.
His other coaching stops included stints as head coach of the boy's junior varsity squad at Madison Memorial High School (Wis.), as well as girl's varsity head coach in Edgewood High School (Wis.) in 1982.
Kelley graduated from Indiana with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education in August of 1981. He held a United States Soccer Federation "A" coaching license and was a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
Kelley is survived by his wife, Mary, and his son Joshua.