2003-10-17 / Sports

Utley Recognized With College Honors

By Elio Velez
Utley Recognized With College Honors By Elio Velez

The Utley family poses: Mel Utley, Kelly Utley, Jr., Kelly Utley Jr. III and Kelly Christopher Utley Sr.The Utley family poses: Mel Utley, Kelly Utley, Jr., Kelly Utley Jr. III and Kelly Christopher Utley Sr.

Kelly C. Utley, Jr. a former basketball and baseball star at Far Rockaway High School will be honored by Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina for his athletic achievements.

The Utley name is known in the Rockaways as Kelly’s cousin, Mel, also starred in basketball at Far Rockaway, attended St. John’s University and was drafted by the New York Knicks.

Utley described how at an early age how quickly he gravitated to playing baseball. "Baseball is my first love", said Utley. ""I remember when I was 15 years old, we were the Redfern Housing champions".

Playing at Far Rockaway, Utley Jr. played baseball under longtime head coach Jack Kerchman and went to the playoffs. "We went to the playoffs and lost a close game to Long Island City in the semifinals", Utley Jr. said. The first baseman also enjoyed time as guard/forward for strong Far Rockaway basketball teams.

After graduating in 1968, Utley Jr, faced one of the toughest decisions in his life. Drafted by the New York Mets as a first basemen, Utley Jr. had the choice to play for $250 a month. "It was an honor to get drafted by the Mets but my mother sat me down", Utley said. "She asked if I would go to college because I would be the first Utley to attend college".

Shaw University, an NCAA Division 1-AA school in Raleigh was an excellent choice for Kelly. "My family only lived 17 miles away and it was easier for me to adjust", said Utley. Quickly adjusting to athletic life, Utley Jr. achieved great and historical honors for his school. Utley, Jr. was named All-Conference honors in basketball and baseball in 1970, 1971 and 1972. He was named an All-American in basketball as a guard/forward and as part of the post-season all first tournament team in his last three years at Shaw.

Another honor he received was being drafted by the New York Nets of the ABA in the 11th round of 1972. But after being the final cut from the Nets, Utley Jr. went on to work with troubled children for the New York City Division of Youth for many years and moved a few years ago to Virginia with his wife and kids.

Utley says he is happy with the way his life has turned out. He is a certified trainer for the successful hamburger chain Fuddruckers and is happy that Shaw University has recognized him for achievements.

The one person he wished would be at the ceremony would be his mother Mary, who passed away in 1985. "I owe everything to her", Utley said.

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