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In The Trenches with Anthony Kelley
Release: 10/24/2002
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Oct. 24, 2002

While his impact on the field can be measured in tackles and sacks, Anthony Kelley's impact off of it is truly immeasurable. Over the past two years, the senior linebacker has made repeated visits to a township in South Africa, working with a dance troupe designed to provide underpriveleged children with opportunities to express themselves artistically. This past spring, Kelley raised over $25,000 to bring the dancers, all schoolchildren from Guguletu, South Africa, to Seattle to share their stories with those in the community, with the hopes that they could touch the lives of others in the same way that they had touched Kelley's. A partial academic qualifier out of Muir High School in Southern California, Kelley found his spirit renewed by his visits to South Africa, and earned a degree this summer in the Comparative History of Ideas. By graduating in four years, Kelley was given back a year of eligibility he had surrendered as a partial qualifier, and is using that year to pursue a second degree, in sociology, while also pursuing opposing tailbacks across the football field. An obviously busy man, Kelley had just a few minutes in between classes and film review to sit down with GoHuskies.com.

GoHuskies.com: How does it feel to have earned back a year of eligiblity?
Anthony Kelley: "The opportunity to play at Husky Stadium is a blessing, and is a great opportunity for me."

GH: You graduated on time with a degree in Comparative History of Ideas (CHID), thought by many students to be one of the most demanding liberal arts programs at the University. How hard was it for you?
Kelley: "When I first got involved, I didn't think it was that demanding. Once I really got into the higher-level courses, though, it was hard, with tough, intense readings. I really enjoyed it, though, because it was something that I could relate to, as far as comparing and contrasting different societies. I'm really into that. It was almost like a second passion, because I was able to relate everything that I learned to my searchings around South Africa. I think CHID is one of the great majors on our campus. Not too many people know about it, but I think it's almost, in a sense, revolutionizing learning, because you actually get to stand back and look at life through a different perspective, instead of the perspective that you've been raised with. You get to go to different countries and see different ideas and thought processes."

GH: Besides your degree in CHID, I heard you are pursuing another degree.
Kelley: "I was planning on pursuing a sociology degree, because some of the classes I took [in sociology] coincide with CHID, and so I was just going to see if maybe I could finish out and get my sociology degree. I'm definitely going to take a shot at the NFL, but if that doesn't work out, I am probably going to go to graduate school in education."

GH: Really? What do plan on doing with that?
Kelley: "I like working with kids, and I'm starting to have this deep passion for knowledge and education. Just speaking of my accounts of education and how badly I think it's needed in communities, especially in inner-cities. I think I'm going to go back to the communities, like Seattle's Central District or my own communities down in Los Angeles and Pasadena, and give the kids more light. I want to let them know that they can be more than just athletes, true student-athletes."

GH: Are you talking about elementary school kids, or high school? Because if you were my second-grade teacher, I would be kind of scared of you.
Kelley: (laughing) "I would like to do a wide range. I want to do something where I could teach at elementary schools, junior highs, high schools, and eventually get to the college level. I have a lot of ideas. I'm still involved in South Africa and I want to build links there and get a cultural exchange program going. I want to work on the aspects of cultural performance, athletic, and academic education. So there are three aspects I really want to get involved in. I know I want to be a teacher -- I like working with kids, both in Africa and the community. I'm trying to figure it all out. I want to have my own foundation, especially if I go to the NFL -- that's something I'm definitely working towards. I want to have my own business, too. There are a lot of things I want to do. I'm just trying to have an influence and change the world a little bit."

GH: Obviously you're a strong leader, so let's go back to football for a second. With the Huskies down right now, how can they come back?
Kelley: "We need to understand what the Husky tradition is all about. It isn't just about putting on the purple uniform and suddenly transforming into a tough Husky. A lot of hard work and sweat went into developing the type of 'Purple Storm' defense that got after teams and would dominate. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into that, and we need to understand that toughness and the kind of hard work that requires. Right now I think we're playing a little soft, and we need to pick it up."

GH: I understand that you and USC tailback Sultan McCullough played for the same high school. What was it like playing against an old friend last week?
Kelley:"When we [the Huskies] were out there on the field, our goal was to keep him under 100 yards. When I was out there tackling him, I was talking trash, but it was cool to be back there and see my friends. After the game I went and talked to his mom. It was good to go back home and see my friends, because I haven't been back home in a long time now. It was good to go back and see him; I'm glad he's doing well."

GoHuskies.com correspondent Steve Hitchcock contributed to this report.

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