The Rising 25 class of 2019, presented by AB InBev, represents some of the brightest young professionals in the sports industry. Over the next several weeks, we’re proud to introduce you to this year’s winners and highlight some of their achievements to date.
Today, meet Jack Kelly: goalie for Redwoods LC of the Premier Lacrosse League and Sports Property Sales Assistant at CAA.
Kelly spends his weekdays at CAA but suits up in the PLL on the weekends during the season. Kelly was a lacrosse student-athlete at Brown University, where he graduated from in 2016. He then played in Major League Lacrosse for three years before making the switch to the PLL, which begins their its first season in June. His passion for the business side of sports led him to the agency world away of the field.
“I think the best piece of advice that I was given was don’t be afraid to take risks,” Kelly says. “I was in consulting in the financial services sector, didn’t really like it, and I left that job before I secured a job at CAA. I took a risk because I wasn’t happy and I learned a lot about myself during that process. Don’t be afraid to do something unconventional or that’s different from what people tell you you should be doing.”
Leading the busy life that comes with playing professional lacrosse and working at an entity like CAA isn’t easy, but Kelly has found a way to make it work for him.
“I work at CAA Monday through Friday, then I fly out on Fridays for practice, practice Saturday morning as well, play Saturday night and then back to New York on Sunday and am back at my desk on Monday morning,” he says. “So it’s definitely a grind, but being able to continue to play lacrosse while still having an awesome job, I definitely feel really fortunate for being able to do that.”
In 2018, Kelly experienced one of the highlights of his professional life when he and the U.S. Men’s National Team won gold at the Federation of International Lacrosse Men’s World Championship in Israel. The Americans beat Canada 10-9 in the final.
Whether it’s been as a professional or as a student-athlete, good time management and being able to absorb information have been perhaps the most important skill for Kelly. His advice for anybody who wishes to also balance a professional playing career with a role in business to learn this skill and to learn to be a good listener.
“I think people who are really successful in business, especially in the sports industry, are listeners… just really understanding what people want as opposed to always being a talker,” he says. “Absorbing different opinions and viewpoints and being thoughtful in your process goes a long way… Listening and understanding the needs and wants of your client and of the brand is really important and leads to much better outcomes.”
Meet the full class of 2019 here.