By Allison Luytjes
Ryan Patrick Kelley was born on Mar. 30, 2007, in Boston, Massachusetts. He received a play drum set at the age of three which inspired his love for music. According to his mom, he was an energetic child who loved singing and dancing around the house.
Ryan started playing baseball at the age of six with his father, who was his biggest inspiration. “My dad was the one who really got me into baseball as a kid. Because he played in the minor leagues, I wanted to follow right in his footsteps,” said Ryan. With the help of his dad, he became quite accomplished at the sport.
After moving from Boston to Ponte Vedra at four years old, Ryan attended Accotink for preschool, Ocean Palms Elementary School, and Palm Valley Academy for sixth through eighth grade. He is currently a sophomore at Ponte Vedra High School, and he is a part of the varsity football team, varsity baseball team, and the Theatre Department.
Watching his older sister Brielle enjoy theatre in high school prompted him to take Theatre One as an elective freshman year. Seeing a fellow football player take center stage in a lead role in the musical Pippin his freshman year inspired Ryan to try out for his first musical. “Seeing Evan Fleisher up on that stage is what really motivated me to try out for the next musical. If he could do it, I could do it too,” Ryan commented. Doing so earned him a part in the ensemble of Kiss Me Kate. “Balancing baseball practices, and Kiss Me Kate rehearsals, and my grades was a challenge,” said Ryan. His grades fluctuated during that time, but he managed to finish off the semester with all A’s and B’s. Because he had so much fun in his Theatre One class and the musical, he decided to take Theater Two as an elective his sophomore year.
“I’ve had numerous sporting authority figures in my classes, and they all really enjoy it. Both theatre and sports take a lot of dedication and determination to achieve. Many stars on the football team have been in a lot of shows put on here at Ponte Vedra High school. Being a part of a show and being a part of a sports team have the same idea, seeing a goal and going for it. It’s just the method to get there is different,” said Jason Nettle, the drama teacher at Ponte Vedra High School.
While playing sports and performing in musical theatre Ryan did get a hard time occasionally from friends, but he never let that get in his way of doing what he enjoyed.
Ryan was in this year’s winter musical, White Christmas, where he played the understudy for Mike, a feisty stage manager full of angst. “Balancing football practice with White Christmas rehearsals was difficult. I would have football practice from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and White Christmas rehearsals from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. I would then get home exhausted and finish my homework with the little energy I had left,” mentioned Ryan. Ryan, again, earned all A’s and B’s last semester. This was a personal goal reached because of his hard work and dedication.
Auditions for the spring musical, Descendants, took place in January of this year, and Ryan was cast as Jay, a lead role! Because the rehearsals will take place right after school, he had to sacrifice his position on the varsity baseball team for the upcoming season. “Although some teammates were disappointed, most were supportive and happy for me,” said Ryan.
“Playing sports and performing are actually very similar. In sports different players work together as a team to win the game and in theatre you have the tech crew, the stage managers, the cast all working together to produce a good show,” Ryan added.
When he is older Ryan would like to attend the University of Central Florida or the University of Michigan. He thinks he would like to play professional baseball or do something in the realm of marketing, and he likes the idea of continuing with community theatre for fun. Although some of these plans may change, his future looks bright!