Evan Kelley feels like he was born to coach girls basketball at Norwalk.
His pedigree with the Bears runs deep as his mother, Robin Peoples, played for the girls team, winning a state championship as part of the 1981 squad.
Kelley’s connection to the school continued as a player at Norwalk, graduating in 2010 as one of the team’s all-time leading scorers.
Last season, he joined coach Ricky Fuller’s staff as an assistant on the girls team which won the CIAC Class LL state championship.
Now, Kelley is the new head coach of the Norwalk girls basketball team, taking over for Fuller, who resigned this spring.
“It means a lot to get this job with the team coming off such a great season. It’s a great job to walk into,” Kelley said. “Norwalk basketball means so much to me. Not just because I played here but my mom played for the girls team at Norwalk. She graduated in 1982. That makes getting this job even more special. Norwalk basketball has always been a big part of my life.”
With the team winning the FCIAC and Class LL last season and plenty of talent returning for this upcoming season, the job posting drew a good amount of interest from coaching hopefuls.
“We had a very strong candidate pool,” Norwalk athletic director Doug Marchetti said. “Ultimately, the committee thought Evan had a terrific interview and was the selection. He did a great job with the team last year, he has a strong connection to the school and a familiarity with the kids. We needed someone strong. The girls know they will have targets on their backs after such a great season and we needed a coach that understood that.”
Kelley understands that not only will the players carry a target, but so will he as a former Norwalk legend on the court.
“That will be more pressure on the girls and more pressure on me as a new coach,” Kelley said. “The girls are ready for it. I saw how well they handled pressure last year. We will work on it in practice though and be ready for everyone’s best game. They know I want to push them so we can get back.”
Kelley said he feels the valuable time spent working with the players last season will make the transition a smooth one.
As a player, Kelley scored 1,202 points in his high school career, including averaging 25.6 points per game as a senior, being named First-Team All-FCIAC and Class L All-State.
He then scored 1,194 points, playing in 117 games at Sacred Heart University.
After graduating from Sacred Heart, Kelley played in the Latvia Basketball League for a year before moving into the coaching ranks.
This is Kelley’s first head coaching job.
He was an assistant coach for two seasons at St. Luke’s before joining the Norwalk girls staff last season.