Kelley recounts playing career at Bama

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 25, 2018

Andalusia Junior High School volleyball coach Sarah Smith Kelley was among the former University of Alabama basketball players that were recognized at Saturday’s Crimson Tide women’s basketball game.

“They brought us all in for a meal and we were able to talk with the coaches before the women’s game against Vanderbilt,” Kelley said. “At halftime of the game, they brought us out on the court and recognized our time playing at Alabama.”

Kelley became a four-year basketball player for the Crimson Tide from 1992 to 1996.

“All four years that I played at Alabama, we made it to the NCAA Tournament,” Kelley said. “Two years we made it to the Sweet 16 and in 1994 we made it to the Final Four. That Final Four season was very special. Right before the season started, one of our assistant coaches, Dottie Kelso, passed away suddenly from a brain aneurysm. We dedicated that season to her.”

Kelley said that she learned many things from her time at the University of Alabama that she still carries with her to this day.

“The process that you go through when you want to accomplish something is something that has stayed with me,” Kelley said. “I learned about the hard work that it takes to reach a goal and you realize that these things don’t just happen overnight. We had to work so hard to get to the tournament and to the Final Four. We had to believe that it could be done and had to be willing to make the sacrifices to get to where we wanted.”

Learning to come together as a team was something Kelley said was special.

“We had girls from every walk of life,” Kelley said. “Learning to come together for a single common purpose was special. There was girl from California, New York, Turkey and me from a little school in Alabama, but we found a common goal on the basketball court.”

Kelley said that she couldn’t say enough good things about her time playing for the Crimson Tide.

“The life lessons that I learned playing college ball are literally what helped develop me as a person. The work ethic that was required and the lessons I learned are things that I wouldn’t trade for anything. My love for the University of Alabama is huge.”