Like father, like son, like grandson
Patrick Kelly joins the family business as broadcaster for St. Louis Ambushby Dan O'Neill / St. Louis Blues
On Saturday, Nov. 11, another chapter in the Kelly story of professional broadcasting began.
Patrick Kelly, son of Blues play-by-play announcer John Kelly, grandson of Hall of Fame Blues play-by-play announcer Dan Kelly, and nephew of former Blues announcer Dan Kelly Jr., took his place underneath the headset and called his first professional game for the St. Louis Ambush. The Ambush, of course, are St. Louis' indoor soccer club and Patrick will be on the call for the 2017-18 campaign.
The Kellys are to broadcasting hockey as the Sutters are to playing hockey. It's in the blood. And for Patrick, it's a passion that has been with him since a young age.
"I have been interested in broadcasting for longer that I can remember," Patrick reflects. "One moment that stands out to me is when I was about 10 and I was struggling with math in school so my parents were giving me a lecture about how I have to do better. I just responded with 'why do I need to know math, I'm just going to be a broadcaster anyways.'"
Growing up around the locker room, rubbing shoulders with All-Stars and future Hall of Famers and meeting high-level hockey executives became the norm for Patrick. There were no equations in that setting, just the ins and outs of professional sports. Patrick's classroom was a broadcast booth and headphones. He was able to learn from his grandfather's tapes and his father's live broadcasts. It's a unique training ground that is unavailable to most kids.
"Both of them have been a huge influence to me," Patrick said of his dad and grandfather. "I talk to my dad after every broadcast about what I did well and what I need to improve on. Unfortunately, since I never got to meet my grandfather, I only have his calls to listen to and learn from. I still listen to his best calls on a regular basis and try to pick out anything I can to make me a better broadcaster."
Patrick's career didn't just begin with the Ambush. In fact, he has been learning and honing his craft since grade school.
"I was lucky enough to get to start in seventh grade when Chaminade started up their CSPN broadcasts," he said. "I immediately showed interested in wanting to have them start doing hockey, which they let me do."
After high school, Patrick enrolled at Lindenwood University, where he is currently in his senior year. He has continued his career there, announcing a variety of Lindenwood's sporting events.
"Lindenwood has given me the opportunity to do as many sporting events as I wanted to announce, including all of the home hockey games," he said.
Practice makes perfect, and Patrick has had plenty of it to this point. But, his field is one that requires constant monitoring and meticulous tweaking. There are plenty of ways to get better and consistent hurdles that must be navigated.
"I wouldn't say that it has come naturally," he said. "I have been listening to my father and grandfather since before I can remember and I think over time I have just picked up on the stuff that they consistently do right and try to emulate that in my broadcasts.
"The biggest challenge I would say is what my dad refers to as 'self-editing.' You can announce every single thing that happens during a play but not everything that is said has relevance to the game. My biggest challenge going forward will be finding what is important and what isn't to make my broadcast more clear and concise."
And so the chapter has begun. Each day, Patrick continues to learn, tinker and perfect as he fills the pages of his own story. And, in the end, Patrick hopes to follow the same Kelly-family trajectory.
"Hockey is where I want to be and with three members of my family having announced for the Blues, it would be nice to add a fourth," he said. "But I am in a very tough business where no job is guaranteed no matter who you are. My first step is just getting to the NHL and I will see where I go from there."
At a young age, Patrick has made some impressive steps in his career. But there is still one stone unturned, one detail yet established. It's that phrase that can connect broadcasters with their audience. A tag line that, especially in his father's case, is often imitated but never duplicated. For Patrick, he's comfortable being patient for now.
"The great thing about 'thank you, thank you, thank you' and 'un-be-lievable' is that they were said in the moment," Patrick said. "I don't want to force a signature call because I know that with time it will come naturally."