- Outfield/Third Base
Despite the strenuous demands of a nursing major, Kelly has always been among the University of Rhode Island’s top students. As a freshman, she earned the University College Scholar Award as one of the top 10 academic freshmen in any major at the school. She had a 3.97 grade-point average after her freshman year. She posted the top grade-point average of any female student-athlete at Rhode Island in each of of her first two years. In the fall semester of her senior year, Kelly posted a 3.88 GPA, despite taking all advanced courses. She ranks in the top 15 percent of her graduating class. Last spring Kelly Was a 2012 Academic All-Conference selection in the Atlantic 10. Without missing time on the field, she has completed nursing clinical rotations with seven different facilities throughout the state of Rhode Island: Westerly Hospital; Newport Hospital; South Shore Mental Health Center; the Tavares Pediatric Center; Clinics Esperanza; Memorial Hospital Home Care in Providence; and the Riverview Healthcare Community. Kelly is expected to complete the NCLEX exam in June of 2013 to earn her professional license. In addition, she is certified as an American Heart Association Health Care Provider as well as CPR.
Kelly is a natural leader, both on and off the field. As a team captain in both her junior and senior seasons, she has been the ultimate team player. She came to Rhode Island as a third baseman, where she played as a freshman. The next season, she moved to left field. The following year, she moved back to third base when injuries to others left the team lacking in depth. This season, she will move back to the outfield, taking over the centerfield position. She did all of this without any type of complaint.
Off the field, Kelly goes out of her way to help others. She is a nursing major, yet finds the time to tutor fellow student-athletes in chemistry, anatomy and physiology. When the softball teams travels, Kelly helps collect the soaps and shampoos from each player’s hotel room. These products are in turn donated to Camp Street Community Ministries. Each summer since her college career began, Kelly has worked full-time as a caregiver for children. In the summer of 2012, she provided 24-hour care for two children for the entire summer until it was time to return to school. In talking about Kelly, Rhode Island head coach Erin Layton said, “If you are trying to identify the model person, Kelly Coker is who you would point to. She is an excellent softball player, but beyond that, she is an even better human being.”
Throughout the year, Kelly is organizing community service experiences for the entire team. Over the Christmas holiday, she got her teammates together to write holiday cards for war veteran’s living in four different veteran’s hall communities. The cards went to veteran’s in Gardiner, Mass., two different homes in Leominster, Mass., and one more in New Hampshire. Working with the Catholic Center on the University of Rhode Island campus, Kelly also spearheaded an effort to make the holidays special for a family she never met. She raised funds that used to buy Christmas presents for a single mother and two children living in a battered women’s shelter.
She and fellow senior captain Erika Szymanski also organized a team effort to prepare full Thanksgiving dinner baskets for two different homeless families. They also collect canned goods each year to donate to the JohnnyCake Center, a food pantry located in Wakefield, R.I. When Joey Ciancola, a sophomore on the Rhode Island baseball team, died in the fall of 2011, Kelly led a fundraising effort by the softball team. The money was donated in Ciancola’s name to the Ronald McDonald House. In the summer of 2012, the softball team participated in the Rhode Island Buddy Walk, in which the team raised money and walked in honor of children with Down Syndrome. In 2009-10, Kelly helped organize a St. Jude’s “Up ‘til Dawn” program in the student union at URI. She collected addresses for the purpose of sending donation letters on behalf of St. Jude’s.
Kelly earned Second Team All-Atlantic 10 honors as a third baseman in 2012. She batted .305 with 7 doubles, 2 triples, 5 home runs and a team-best 33 runs batted in. On the base paths, she stole 15 bases in 17 attempts and was fourth on the team with 25 runs scored. She was one of only two players in the Atlantic 10 to have at least 5 home runs and 10 sacrifices last spring. Kelly has started all 155 games she has played for Rhode Island. In those games she has 120 career hits and 46 walks, reaching bases safely 166 times in 155 games, an average of 1.07 times per game. She is one of only three players in school history with at least 10 career home runs and 25 stolen bases. Still with a full season left in her career, Kelly already ranks in the top 20 in Rhode Island history in runs scored, hits, doubles, home runs, runs batted in, total bases, walks, stolen bases and sacrifices. Barring injury, she projects to finish high in the top 10 in every one of those categories, and several others.