Bouncing back: After once quitting basketball, UMES’ Kelly now thriving

Tatyana Kelly has started each of the last 13 games for UMES this season, and has averaged 5.1 points per game.

Tatyana Kelly has started each of the last 13 games for UMES this season, and has averaged 5.1 points per game. / SUBMITTED IMAGE
Written by Shawn Yonker (Staff Writer)
 PRINCESS ANNE — When she was in the fifth grade, Taryana Kelly played basketball for a local team that made the experience miserable. She didn’t get along with her teammates, who picked on her and took the enjoyment out of the sport.

She decided as that season ended that she never wanted to play basketball again.

Good thing for her someone changed her mind.

The 6 foot, 3 inch sophomore forward is now a key piece of the future for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore women’s basketball team and has started each of the last 13 games, after missing the first 10 this season due to a broken hand.

“There was something about basketball that made me want to go back,” Kelly said. “Then once I got serious about AAU (at about 14), my AAU coach told me ‘We are going to make you into a Division I player.’”

Kelly made that her mission. She worked out with a trainer every day — sometimes twice a day.

Then she got good.

The phone call that eventually came from UMES assistant coach Cedric Jenkins peaked her interest immediately.

She had always wanted to come to an Historically Black College or University, and although she had never heard of UMES, she knew it was Division I and would have the close feel and strong culture she was looking for.

During her college search, she was seeking the closeness she didn’t have with her teammates as a tall and awkward young girl, but later found in the sixth grade with a school change.

Her height made the other kids ask if she played basketball. Her response was that she didn’t any more, until one day some close friends changed her mind.

So in a year’s time she went from “done” with basketball to a path that led her to the Hawks.

“At the time of my visit, it was an instant connection with the coaches, with the team and I loved the campus, so I felt like this was the right place to be,” Kelly said.

The adjustment to college wasn’t that hard for Kelly because she was used to working hard in the classroom and on the court. And coming to practice, where coach Fred Batchelor pushes her to get the most out of her, was completely comfortable.

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02 2014

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