Curtis Adds to Family’s Springfield Legacy Wrapping Up Track Career as All-American
Kelly Curtis is well aware of her family’s special athletic legacy at Springfield College.
Her father, John was an All-American split end for the Massachusetts school in 1970 while her older brother, Jay, went on to be a Freedom Football Conference all-star for the Pride in 2002.
When the youngest Curtis decided to transfer to Springfield from Tulane in 2010 and join the school’s track program, she felt some pressure.
“It was tough,” said Curtis, a former Princeton High basketball and track standout who did a post-grad year at Lawrenceville and won prep titles and athletic awards for the Big Red.
“I always thought of it as my dad’s school and my brother’s school. My dad is in the Hall of Fame there and I have been to a lot of reunions.”
It didn’t take long for Curtis to add a special chapter to the family’s history at Springfield as she won the heptathlon at the storied Penn Relays last spring.
This year, Curtis made her case for a spot in the school’s Hall of Fame, earning All-American status in the pentathlon indoors and the heptathlon outdoors and defending her Penn Relays title with a second place finish.
While it would appear that Curtis had a smooth ride to success as a senior, there were some bumps along the way.
“My indoor season was a little rough; I had a shaky start,” said Curtis. “I didn’t get to train much over the summer. I had an internship in D.C. and went to Gallaudet two days a week for some strength and conditioning. I didn’t run cross country as a senior; I was not at the same conditioning level.”
But at the NCAA Division III indoor meet at Grinnell College in March, Curtis proved she could compete at the highest level, placing seventh in the pentathlon to earn All-American status.
“Once nationals came around, I did well,” said Curtis, who scored a season-high point total of 3,309 at the meet. “I was pleased to be seventh.”
About six weeks later, Curtis headed to Philadelphia to compete in the heptathlon at the Penn Relays to defend her title. While Curtis fell short of a repeat, she acquitted herself well, piling up 4,628 points to take second behind Ithaca’s Emma Dewart (5,006 points).
“I didn’t know who was going to be in the field until the night before,” said Curtis.
“Junior year, I was just thrilled to be there. Senior year was icing on the cake. It was being in such a big event as an athlete from a small school. It didn’t go as well as the year before. My focus was in the nationals so I was trying to peak for that.”
Upon arriving at Claremont College in California in late May for the NCAA Division III track and field championships, Curtis hit an unexpected hurdle.
“I was feeling good until the day of the competition; I woke up feeling sick as a dog,” recalled Curtis. “Instead of focusing on the competition, I was just fighting through each event.”
Curtis didn’t feel any better when she went to the track for the second day of the competition but soldiered on to take fifth place and earn All-American honors.
“It turned out that I had tonsillitis,” said Curtis. “My throat was very sore and it was hard to eat and refuel which is not too good when you are in an event that takes five hours. I didn’t have any energy. I have to be pleased with what I did under the circumstances.”
In reflecting on her transfer to Springfield, Curtis couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out.
“I loved the transition and how welcoming the school was,” said Curtis.
“It is more relaxed and more fun than being at a D-I school. The coaches really appreciate you. I hope I have made a little mark in track.”
The school made an indelible mark on Curtis. “They really emphasize the mind, body, and spirit,” said Curtis, an honors graduate who is starting a masters program in sports management at Georgetown this fall and aspires to someday become a college athletics director.
“Athletics is just one component of that. The track team won the Pride challenge which is more than athletics, it deals with community service and giving back.”
And like her father and brother before her, Curtis certainly gave a lot to Springfield.