Teammates, man’s best friend support Kelly off the court


Selena Favela

Zach Brown, Rashard Kelly and C.J. Keyser take a selfie during a photoshoot.

Rashard Kelly, an energetic senior forward for the Shocker Men’s Basketball team, says there’s much more to life than just playing basketball.

Kelly came to Wichita State from his hometown in Fredericksburg, Virginia specifically to be a part of the basketball team, but said he soon discovered there was more to being a part of a team than wins and losses.

Now, almost halfway through his fourth and final year at WSU, Kelly recognizes the impact that his involvement in the athletic program has had on his life, even off the court.

“This is probably one of the closest teams I’ve been on,” Kelly said. “We’re just a group of brothers and we understand what we all want. We just challenge each other and we don’t let each other slack off. We know what we expect and we help hold each other accountable. We’ve all got a common goal.”

Kelly said even the limited free time he has is spent with teammates.

“We just have homeboy time,” Kelly said. “We watch football games, play videogames, and just kick it. We really just try to always look out for each other.”

In addition to the support of his teammates and friends, Kelly said he receives emotional support from Tank, his nearly-one-year-old bullmastiff.

“Honestly, he gets most of my attention,” Kelly said.

Because his family and home in Virginia are so far away, Kelly set his mind to finding an easier, safer way to transport Tank back and forth for trips.

“I wanted him to come home with me, and I knew flying isn’t the best for animals,” Kelly said. “But I’m 18 hours away from home, so I did some research and I found faster ways to get him on the plane with me. Now he sits between my legs in first class.”

Kelly said having Tank around eases the stress of sports, school, and other responsibilities.

To give insight into his daily routine, Kelly described a typical Tuesday.

“I usually wake up early, then go to class at 11,” Kelly said. “I have lunch and some downtime between 12 and 2. Then I lift from 2 to 3, go to practice from 3-5:30, then go home, get dinner, relax and watch TV.”

Kelly said that, because his basketball performance is so important, he does his best to stay focused on his game, even when he has time to relax.

“When I have free time, I’ll either be at home relaxing with my feet up or at the gym shooting,” Kelly said. “I don’t try to do too much. I think everything I do is preparing for a game in a way so when I’m sleeping, that’s the only real downtime I have. That’s the only time my mind is not on basketball.”

Looking ahead to the end of his senior year as a Shocker and student athlete, Kelly said he’s most excited for graduation itself.

“I’m excited just to graduate,” Kelly said. “For my family and my mom. My mom deserves it. She sacrificed a lot, so for me to walk across the stage just knowing she’s in the stands . . . I’ll be proud.”

“I’ve been here long enough. I want to explore more opportunities in the world.”