When Levittown native Timothy Kelly was an all-county lacrosse player for the Division Avenue High School Blue Dragons in 1998, it would have been hard for him to imagine that he would one day make a career out of the sport of lacrosse. In fact, it would have been impossible, as there was not a professional outdoor men's lacrosse league in the United States.
In 2001, Major League Lacrosse was launched and so were the Long Island Lizards, who play out of the nearly 10,000-seat Mitchel Field Athletic Complex in Uniondale. Over the past six years the league has grown to new levels, making a career in the front office of an MLL franchise possible.
So, in late June of this year, Kelly was named the full time general manager of the Long Island Lizards. "General would certainly be the definition of my job," Kelly said when describing all this position entails. "From accounting, to sponsors to schedule and television deals, I have a hand in all of that."
Kelly, 26, went to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and was a two-year starter for the lacrosse team there. He graduated in 2002, and went directly to Brooklyn Law School in Rhode Island, as he also was an assistant coach at Brown. The head coach of the Long Island Lizards, Jim Mule, is also a Brown grad, which gave Kelly the opportunity to get involved with the club.
Despite the progress of the league over the past six seasons, there is still a lot of work to do according to Kelly. "We drew 3,500 fans per game last season," he said. "This year we are really aiming for 6,000. Also, after a 5-7 record in 2006, we feel we have the ability to make the improvements to get us to a championship level."
Getting more people out to the games is certainly essential for the growth of the league and the former Division Avenue three-sport star said that the exposure of the players could make that happen. Even though all the players have full time jobs in addition to their responsibilities to the Lizards, they still find time for community service. The recent launch of the Lizards Literacy Lounge is a program designed to have players go to various schools and read to the children, while encouraging reading and giving out awards and game tickets to students who read the most.
"The best part about the Lizards is it's a great family environment with games and entertainment at a great value price," Kelly said. "Every player will stay and sign autographs after each game as well."
As for Kelly's future, his main goal is to stay in the MLL and with the Lizards as long as the league continues to grow, which seems likely with western expansion and an increase to 12 teams in the league on tap for 2008. Regardless of what the future of the league holds, he wants to remain in sports for the rest of his life.
Kelly got married in June and hopes that this position will springboard him toward bigger and better things, so he will be able to support his family now and in the future. But for now he's not looking that far ahead and said, "I'm just happy to be back on Long Island and involved again in the local community."
The Lizards have games on Fox Sports New York and the MLL has its game of the week on ESPN2. Season tickets are $100 for six home games and $20 per game. For more information visit www.longislandlizards.com.