ROME – Aaron Kelton, new head football coach of the Shorter University Hawks, has been doing a lot of recruiting. He is also putting his team through the paces of spring practice and seems to be very optimistic about the future.
Kelton accepted the Shorter coaching position in January after having coached the William College Ephs since 2010. He follows Phil Jones as the Hawks second-ever head football coach. He is also the first African American coach in the Gulf South Conference.
Shorter President Don Dowless has been quoted as saying, “Coach Kelton is a wonderful addition to the Shorter University family. His experience as a head coach and his commitment to Christian higher education are a great combination and meshes well with the University’s mission. He appreciates the uniqueness of our University and is well prepared to lead us into the future.”
Kelton has an affable, gregarious, congenial personality with an infectious smile. His birth certificate indicates that he is 48-years-old, but his winsome smile and athletic profile make him look years younger. In fact, he looks like he could still take a few snaps from the quarterback position, a role he played in both high school and college.
The new Shorter head football coach is from Boston, MA, where he was a four-year letterman in football, basketball and baseball at Wellesley High School. As the Wellesley Raider’s quarterback and defensive back he led them to beat the Natick Red Hawks (where five years earlier the 1984 Heisman Trophy recipient Doug Flutie played in high school), and ended their 49 game winning streak.
Aaron and his twin brother, Andrew, both played football on the same team in high school and college. Aaron stated, “Andrew is the greatest guy I know. He was really good. In sports he could play anything. And, do you know what? We came back and beat Natick again the next year, too.”
The Kelton twins went to Springfield College, a private, coeducational institution of higher learning in Springfield, MA. Springfield College, formerly the International YMCA Training School is where James Naismith, sports coach and innovator, invented the sport of basketball in 1891.
“He was a great athlete for us.”
Mike Delong, who was head football coach at Springfield during the Keltons’ playing days, said of Aaron, “I can still see him running a naked bootleg for a TD against Norwich in the rain. He was a great athlete for us. He’s an outstanding person, and I am sure he will be an outstanding head coach. Hard work and an impressive character have characterized Aaron’s career.”
One of Aaron’s most memorable football experiences in college was winning the Mayor’s Trophy in the annual Springfield College vs. American International College football game at the end of the season. He recalled, “(During my time at Springfield) We never lost the Mayor’s Trophy.”
After college Kelton went back to Wellesley High School to start his coaching career. Delong commented, “He took a non-traditional route into coaching and he has just worked and worked his way up the ladder to be a coordinator in the Ivy League (before going to Williams College where he was head coach before accepting the Shorter job).
Kelton made an immediate statement in his first season with the Ephs, which competes in the New England Small College Athletic Association, leading the team to a perfect 8-0 record, the first ever recorded by a first-year head coach in the school’s 125-year history, and was named the 2010 NESCAC Coach of the Year. He also served as an assistant professor of physical education at Williams, where he posted a 23-25 record.
Recipient of four NFL Bill Walsh Fellowships
During his career, Kelton received four NFL Bill Walsh Fellowships, which enabled him to serve as a member of the coaching staffs of the Arizona Cardinals in 2009, Indianapolis Colts in 2007, Jacksonville Jaguars in 2008, and the Miami Dolphins in 2013. He also attended the NCAA Expert Coaches Academy in Miami in May 2006.
Kelton graduated from Springfield with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and is currently working on completing a master’s degree in integrated studies from Virginia State and he and his wife Charlotte are the proud parents of a daughter, Kelsi.
Kelton grew up in Concord Baptist of Boston and trusted Christ as his Savior as a young teenager. He stated, “Mom always had us in church. I am not ashamed to talk about Christ. I want to influence my players by my walk and talk and let them see that Christ is the chief influence in my life.
“When I think of my role here at Shorter I want the players on my team to know that football helped them get an education and that through football they will receive clarity about the path God wants them to take.
“I want them to get a good job and become productive citizens. I want them all to know Christ personally and use their testimony to influence the lives of others – to pay it forward.”
“I believe God brought me to Shorter”
“After six years at Williams College, I had an opportunity to go to some other places, but I believe God brought me to Shorter and I am going to make the most of this opportunity.”
A book that means much to Kelton is The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge by heralded NFL championship football coach Tony Dungy. The book is a devotional guide that not only engages the mind, but also challenges the heart.
The Shorter Hawks will enter their 11th football season as a member of the NCAA Division II and very competitive Gulf South Conference. The first game of the season will be with the Chattanooga Mocs, who are in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision and members of the Southern Conference.
The Hawks face a tough schedule, but Kelton is installing a new offensive plan and is positive about the upcoming season. But, then, Aaron Kelton is one of the most positive individuals you will ever meet.