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More Than a Game

Strawberry Crest coach's timeout with the home team

Strawberry Crest head football coach John Kelly huddles with the squad closest to his heart. From left, wife Misty, 10-month-old Jaxson, Jenna, 3, and Juliana, 6, gather as Kelly reads We’re Going on a Lion Hunt Tuesday in their living room.

Strawberry Crest head football coach John Kelly huddles with the squad closest to his heart. From left, wife Misty, 10-month-old Jaxson, Jenna, 3, and Juliana, 6, gather as Kelly reads We’re Going on a Lion Hunt Tuesday in their living room.

Within a matter of hours, Strawberry Crest football coach John Kelly goes from yelling plays on the field to reading stories to his children on his living room couch.

During football season, these are the precious — and rare — moments he gets at home with his family.

"My own kids are getting 30 minutes of my time a night," he says. "After Wednesday night, I don't really see them until Saturday afternoon. It's really hard."

Kelly arrives home at 7:30 p.m., and after quickly eating his dinner, he turns his attention to daughters Juliana, 6, and Jenna, 3, and son Jaxson, who is 10 months old. While his wife, Misty, helps the girls change into their pajamas, Kelly bathes Jaxson in their kitchen sink.

The Kelly children are no strangers to football: Each was born during the season, with Jaxson born during the last game of the Chargers' 2012 season.

Jenna begins to circle around her father's legs and asks for a bedtime story. On this night, it's We're Going on a Lion Hunt by Margery Cuyler.

Story time then turns to prayer time, as he asks his daughters what they are thankful for from the day.

After giving them kisses and hugs, he turns out the lights, as a blanket of quiet falls onto the home.

"You go above and beyond and make sacrifices," Kelly says. "Unfortunately, the sacrifice means giving up time with your own family, so you have to take advantage of nonseason time together."

Do you have an idea that you would like to see featured in "More Than a Game"? Eve Edelheit can be reached at eedelheit@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3309.

Each week this fall, Times photographer Eve Edelheit will scan the county to focus on the ancillary aspects — players, drama, coaches, fans, highs, lows, tradition, cheerleaders — that make prep football in this area "More Than a Game."

Each week this fall, Times photographer Eve Edelheit will scan the county to focus on the ancillary aspects — players, drama, coaches, fans, highs, lows, tradition, cheerleaders — that make prep football in this area "More Than a Game."

Strawberry Crest coach's timeout with the home team 09/18/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 2:21pm]
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