Bill Kelley Retires from Navy Rifle Program After 18 Years as Head Coach
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Bill Kelley announced on Tuesday his retirement as head coach of the rifle team at the United States Naval Academy after 18 years at the helm of the highly-competitive program. The 2004 Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association National Coach of the Year, Kelley transformed the Mids into a perennial NCAA Championship contender as the team competed on the national stage 12 different times during his time in charge of the Midshipmen.
Individually, he coached 10 NRA First-Team All-Americans and 18 more Second-Team All-Americans during his 18 years. Of the five shooters in school history to earn All- American status all four years, three of them came under Kelley’s guidance (Lisa Kunzelman, ‘06-09 and Sarah Bergman ’04-07 and Chris Schneider ‘04-07).
“This was a dream job for me that I enjoyed and took pride in for all 18 years here at the United States Naval Academy," remarked Kelley. "I can’t complain about anything and really appreciated working with the Mids, support staff and administration here. I’d like to thank Mr. Gladchuk for doubling down and making significant investments in our program. The Navy rifle team is on the cusp of some really great results.
"Looking back, I think about all of the great experiences that I had with my team and helping get athletes to a championship level. Seeing your athletes grow and develop is really something special. I will value those times on the range and out on the road. Also seeing the great service men and women that your athletes mature into is another perk of the job that I truly valued."
"My appreciation on behalf of so many who have benefited from Coach Kelley's leadership and guidance over the years," said Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk. "He has served the Academy and Midshipmen in a manner that has sustained a level of pride and stature within the intercollegiate community. Filling his shoes will not be easy, but the NAAA will launch a comprehensive search for his successor. We are hopeful to have our new head coach in place over the next few weeks."
Always looking to push the Navy program to new heights nationally, Kelley led the team join the Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) in 2013-14. Since joining the nationally-renowned conference, a minimum of three out of the eight NCAA Championship competitors every year have come from the GARC. The Mids’ first win in the league, which hosts the likes of West Virginia, Kentucky and Nebraska, came on Nov. 16, 2013 against North Carolina State. Following the 2015-16 season, then-senior Jodi Cull-Host and Daniel Jonas garnered Navy’s first-ever GARC All-League accolades with Cull-Host on the air rifle second team and Jonas a spot on the honorable mention team.
Prior to joining the GARC, Kelley and his Navy teams won 13 straight Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) championships beginning in 2000 and running through 2012. Under his tutelage a Midshipmen finished atop the MAC individual standings for either the smallbore or air rifle events 20 times.
Over Navy’s 12 NCAA Championship competitions from 2000 through 2017, the Mids finished third overall in the team standings at the 2004 meet after notching the third-best score in smallbore and the second-best total in air rifle. Kelley and the Mids also finished fourth at the 2006 meet and fifth in both 2000 and 2005. Kelley coached Josh Albright in 2007 to the NCAA National title in smallbore to become just the second-ever NCAA individual champion in program history.
In his 18 years, Kelley posted a 164-45-1 record with a perfect 15-0 mark in his debut season of 2000 and 17-1 season mark in 2009 highlighting his standout record. In his final season in 2016-17 with a regular starting lineup that consisted of three or more underclassmen, the Mids went 9-6. Navy earned GARC victories over Akron and Ole Miss.
Academically, Navy has been one of the top teams in the nation under Kelley’s watch. The team posted a 100% APR in 11 of 12 seasons from 2004 through 2015. Navy has also been a multiple time recipient of the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for its outstanding performance in the classroom. This past March, four Mids were honored as CRCA Scholastic All-Americans.
“I look forward to helping Chet and our administration in finding the best possible coach for a talented group of athletes that has a very bright future," said Kelley. "I expect great things from this team and program as it moves on and challenges for GARC and NCAA Championships, as well as Stars versus Army.”