Elder grad Pat Kelsey's Sandy Hook shooting comments go viral

Kelsey's emotional words formed in Price Hill

CINCINNATI - Michael Murphy's eyes were glued to the screen in the front of Gary Rogers' journalism class Wednesday at Elder High School.

The junior and 20 other young men weren't watching some ordinary video presentation.  

Instead, they were getting a life lesson from Pat Kelsey, Elder High School Class of 1993. It was a lesson forged by his parents and reinforced during his years as a Panther in Price Hill.

He urged current students, President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, parents, teachers, rabbis, priests, coaches and everyone else to be agents-of-change to stop mass shootings in this country.

"I thought it was something that needed to be said," Murphy stated.

Kelsey is currently the Winthrop University Basketball Coach in Rock Hill, S.C. After his team lost Tuesday night to Ohio State in Columbus, he delivered passionate comments about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.

The remarks were picked up by ESPN and posted on You Tube. They've since gone viral. To watch the video, click on the video player below. (Note to mobile and tablet users: Open the story in a browser to watch the video.)

"I know this country's got issues," he said.  "Is it a gun issue? Is is a mental illness issue? Or is it a society that has lost the fact, the understanding, that decent human values are important?"

That sentiment was delivered after eight days on the road with his team and before their bus began the eight-hour journey home.  

Kelsey wasn't with his wife and two young daughters when the school shooting occurred and his passion as a husband, father, coach and teacher was evident.

He vowed to walk into their pink room filled with teddy bears and give each of them the biggest hug and the biggest kiss that they'd ever gotten.

"There's 20 families in Newport, Connecticut, that are walking into a pink room with a bunch of teddy bears with nobody laying in those beds," he intoned. "It's tragic."

This is the time to prevent that from happening again, Kelsey urged.

"I'm going to be an agent-of-change for the 13 young men that I get to coach every day and the two young girls that I get to raise," he promised.

Murphy was fired up by what he heard.

"It definitely inspires me," he said. "Elder's motto is 'Strive for Higher Things.' That's what coach Kelsey is trying to get at here -- trying to get people to rise up."

Elder varsity basketball coach Joe Schoenfeld wasn't surprised that Kelsey spoke out so eloquently.

Kelsey was a member of the 1993 team that won the state championship in Schoenfeld's first year as varsity coach. He later coached under Schoenfeld, played at Xavier, then coached at Wake Forest and Xavier before moving to Winthrop.

"He's just a natural leader. Hard worker. Led by example and also by voice," Schoenfeld said before practice Wednesday. "If you were doing great, he'd let you know. If you weren't doing great, he's let you know. Just sort of the glue that held our team together."

Schoenfeld told his current team to be as passionate about life as Kelsey -- in school, at home, on the floor and in life.

"Be someone who impacts somebody beside yourself," he urged his players.

Senior Trevor Ginn said he's known the Kelsey family for years and calls Kelsey a true motivator.

"He's like an idol to me," Ginn said. "I've always looked up to him my whole life. If I have a chance to be like him and people look up to me, I'll do the same."

Ginn said hearing Kelsey's comments about family will motivate him to love his family every day.

"Every day that I come home, I'll give my sister a hug and give my parents a hug," he said.

Senior Joe Ramstetter said he'll make sure that he takes the time to reach out to others who might be troubled and need to talk to someone.

He also said he'll be an active voice against violence.

"Get people with you to make sure something changes," he said. "I know it might not, maybe it will, but if you put your effort into it as hard as you can, something might change because of you."

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