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#FeatureFriday: From Behind The Plate, Kelly Moved Behind The Mic
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Features - Fri, Mar. 18, 2016

During the 2015 fall semester, students in the Writing For Media class taught by professor Duane Stoltzfus produced a variety of articles. Among these articles were feature stories. The Goshen College sports information department is pleased to publish several features centering on GC athletics in the coming weeks and thanks professor Stoltzfus and the authors for granting permission to do so.

GC Graduate Kelly 'Lives To Work' At The Ballpark
By Andrew Snyder

Benjamin Kelly loves playing baseball and broadcasting contests, but his position as catcher for the Goshen College Maple Leafs precluded him from calling baseball games for all four years of college. After graduating in 2013, Kelly set out to the real world, and little did he know that in less than a year, he would finally have his chance to call his favorite sport near the highest level in the profession.

Kelly is weeks from beginning his third year as the sole radio broadcaster and baseball operations coordinator for a double-A baseball team, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, who won the World Series in October. The Naturals finished the past season with a 69-70 record, earning second place in the Texas League North.

Just nine months after graduation, Kelly was offered the job with the Naturals in February of 2014. He immediately transitioned from his work in the sports information department at Judson University to his chance to show his skills in the minors, where he has been ever since.

During the season Kelly's day starts off around 8 a.m. with a run. By 10 a.m. he's off to the ballpark for the start of the workday. His mornings consist of gathering information about games around the league and the Naturals specifically, all aimed towards creating an eight-page game-note package to enhance his broadcast. After eating lunch with the coaches and players at any one of numerous restaurant options, Jersey Mike's being a favorite when on the road, Kelly spends his afternoons down in the team clubhouse, chatting with managers and players and arranging interviews for later that evening.

 "Really my day leading up to first pitch or until my pregame show at 6:45 is all about talking with somebody and trying to find insight about the game last night or a funny story, just anything that I can use in my broadcast to bring to the listeners," Kelly said.

The game often lasts for around three hours, and afterwards Kelly still has work to do.

"Around 10 p.m. I write the press release on the game, then I start to get ready for the next game, and hope to be out of the ballpark by around midnight, then do it all over again the next day," he said.

Kelly earned a major in broadcasting and a minor in Spanish at Goshen. He also spent a semester immersed in the cultures of Peru as a part of Goshen College's Study-Service Term.

"I feel like that's going to be one of the big things that separates me from everyone else trying to make it to the big leagues," Kelly said. "Kansas City has a long history of developing talent in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, so I've been able to talk with players whose English isn't great, and that helps me practice my Spanish and helps them to trust me as their radio broadcaster."

While the work places Kelly on a prominent stage, not all is glamorous. As the baseball operations coordinator for the Naturals, Kelly deals with the players' traveling budget, including hotels, food money and other team expenses.  He then collects all of the receipts and compiles a 40-page report that goes directly to the Kansas City Royals organization for reimbursement.

With a schedule that intermixes home and away games for several months, Kelly and the rest of the team end up eating a diet familiar to a teenage college student: lots and lots of fast food.

"I don't buy groceries from the start of the season to the end, because I'm never home," Kelly said. "It's all fast food or eating out really."

A season squeezing 140 games into 150 or so days doesn't leave much room for a personal life. "It's a lifestyle you choose, really," he said. "Some people work to live; I live to work and I love it. It's not easy but I picked it and I enjoy doing it, so I'm going to keep doing it."

Kelly cherishes his opportunities to return to northern Indiana, and credits professors at Goshen College, including Jason Samuel, the general manager of the Globe radio station, and Duane Stoltzfus for improving his skills.

"Jason was huge in my career: he really drew me to Goshen," said Kelly. "Also to talk to Duane, who was big in my writing, was critical of my work and told me the right things to do to get better. Those are the ties that draw me back, just visiting old friends and see the people who really helped me out."

During the offseason, which will conclude in the next few weeks, Kelly concentrates on what's next for him while picking up various radio jobs in the surrounding community.

"I'm just looking for ways to stay on the air," said Kelly. "I've done high school basketball for one of the local high schools and also filled  in on a local morning show every now and then. You just keep looking for ways to stay involved in radio, trying to stay fresh and keep on top of your game for the season."

During the season, Naturals broadcasts air on 92.1 the Ticket out of Fayetteville, Ark. The games are also streamed live at 921theticket.com.