Ollie Kelly is a senior midfielder on the Fordham men’s soccer team from London. Following a transfer from North Carolina State after his freshman year, Kelly has adapted well to New York City and Fordham, and has played an integral role on the squad, serving as captain this fall.
The Fordham Ram: How did you initially start playing soccer?
Ollie Kelly: I wouldn’t be able to put an actual age on it I think it’s been ever since I can remember. Soccer is the biggest sport in England, and my dad and brother played. My brother is a couple of years older than me, so I would always go out and play with him. All of my friends [still] play too. It’s just something that I’ve just grown up doing every single day of my life.
TFR: Being from London, why did you chose to come over to the United States to play soccer?
OK: I took a gap year [after my senior year of high school] and I was trying to figure out where I wanted to go with my life. Because I was taking soccer seriously, I didn’t get to fulfill everything that a young teenager does growing up. So, I thought it would be a good experience for me to come out to the states and also play and get a good education. Not everyone gets to study in a different country, so it’s a nice experience. Also, a big influence was my best friend from back home. He ended up going to N.C. State before me, and he told me about it and introduced me to the coaches.
TFR: What made you decide to transfer to Fordham after a year at N.C. State?
OK: It was a big, big difference coming from London to living down south. It was tough for me because N.C. State was very big, and if you needed to do something you had to jump in a car. And, obviously, I can’t drive here. I’m a very independent person, and just thought it would be best if I transferred out, because I just wanted to be in a city. I narrowed it down to a few schools, but when I came here I just liked the vibe the academics were good and the coaches and guys on the team were really nice to me. At first, I thought it would be better if I commuted from Lincoln Center for classes and practice, but looking back, it was a good thing that I came [to Rose Hill].
TFR: As an integral part of Fordham’s midfield line, what do you feel is your role on the team? How have you taken on more leadership as a captain?
OK: When I first got here, there were quite a few big personalities on the team. As they’ve graduated, we have come to this year where there isn’t a guy [like that]. Everyone, not just me, has had to step up in that leadership role. As captain this year, I have had to up it a little more than everyone else, but I have enjoyed the challenge of it all. It’s a really good group of boys in that if we decide something as a team, everyone is going to be in on it one hundred percent. There is no one guy that is going to try and go in a different direction.
TFR: Do you think this especially benefits the younger players?
OK: Yes, though I think the freshmen really add to what we already have. Typically, when freshmen come in, they’re like “Wow, I’m in college” and it’s a completely new world. But, these freshmen are the most composed I have seen. Soccer is their number one priority by far, and that’s just huge for the team. Normally, [the upperclassmen] have to help the freshmen, but this class has actually helped give us a lift.
TFR: Can you recall your best or a favorite moment on the field in a Fordham jersey?
OK: I scored the other weekend [against Dayton], so that was pretty fun. But, one of the games that I’m most proud of was when we played Charlotte away during my sophomore year. Charlotte was a very good team; they had gotten to the national championship the year before and were ranked when we played them. Everyone was really tired because we had a Friday game, and this game was on Sunday. We could have easily said “We’re playing Charlotte, we’re going to get killed,” but the fact that we were playing a quality team made everyone work that extra 20 percent harder. We ended up tying the game, which was disappointing because we had been winning, but we had tied them in a game that no one gave us a chance in. I was just proud of everyone because we played so hard and put in that extra effort.
TFR: What will the team look to accomplish at the Atlantic 10 Championship?
OK: Our conference is really tight everyone has lost to teams that they were expected to beat. On their day, anyone in our conference can beat anyone. We just have to keep that in mind. No matter who we play, we know that if we play well, we can beat anyone. Also, the fact that there are games Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday will be tough. There will be injuries, and if we get lucky with all of our players staying healthy while some on other teams go out, it changes the game completely.
TFR: Do you have any post-graduation plans? Do you think you will stay here or go back to London?
OK: Right now, I just started applying for management and consultancy positions, with operations and analytics, both here and back home. When I first came here, I would have said that I would be going straight home [to work], but now that I have been here a while, I have become Americanized and the idea of staying and working here is a feasible option for me. It does not mean that I prefer it over going back home, but wherever I apply, get accepted and get the opportunity, that will lead to where I will be next year.
Tara Cangialosi is the Web Editor for The Fordham Ram.