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Garces announces Melissa Kelly as new cross country, track coach

Garces Memorial High School and athletic director Gino Lacava are pleased to announce Melissa Kelly as the new cross country and track and field coach.

Kelly comes to Bakersfield from Orange County where she was the girls head track and field coach at Irvine-Beckman this past season.

She has spent the previous five seasons as an assistant coach at the high school and collegiate level and has her Master’s degree in Kinesiology from Cal State Fullerton, where she also was a member of the women’s track and field program.

“Melissa has a go-getter attitude and is driven to succeed,” Lacava said. “She will make an immediate impact in the classroom (where she will teach science) as well as a head coach. She is a welcomed addition to the Garces family.”

Kelly replaces Susan Walker and Jess Pena, both who retired this spring after a combined 40 years on campus at Garces. 

In her one season as head coach, Kelly sent six track and field athletes to the CIF Southern Section finals in June and had school records broken under her leadership in three different events.

Within her Master’s degree, her emphasis was in exercise physiology and strength and conditioning, a field she spent time in as an assistant coach at Chapman University and as a teacher’s assistant at Cal State Fullerton. 

“My coaching style is being able to build a culture and community,” Kelly said. “But at the same time, I have high expectations and clear and defined rules for my athletes and programs. I have a balance of being strict and having fun. If we all do what is expected from us will define us as a program. I will help to provide our student-athletes with anything they need to be successful.”

The Orange County native says she is excited about the new opportunity here at Garces.

“I am excited to develop a new program and incorporate modalities that I have seen work with plyometrics to help improve them,” Kelly said. “I have seen it work at the college and high school level.”

Any interested cross country athletes at Garces can meet Coach Kelly during a meet-and-greet outside the Campbell Field House on Monday, Aug. 2 at 4 p.m.

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