ABINGTON, MASS. (WHDH) - As the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
That is ringing true at Abington High School where coach Jim Kelliher is retiring after leading the school’s football program for the past half-century.
Kelliher is the only coach in Massachusetts history to coach the same high school football team for 50 or more years. He recently spoke to 7NEWS about his career.
“It has been an honor,” he said. “I feel like I am the luckiest guy in the world.”
“It has been just a wonderful journey. To be at this point still is amazing to me,” he continued.
Kelliher had a lifelong dream of coaching his alma mater program. Having fulfilled that dream, he will be remembered for bringing out the best in his players.
In this 50th and final year on the sideline for Kelliher, his team dedicated their season to their coach.
“We need to put in everything we have because he has put in everything he’s had for the past 50 years,” said Abington senior captain Connor Pease.
“This year is very focused on Kel,” said fellow senior captain Connor O’Donnell. “Every single time someone is unmotivated, you can say ‘Alright, it is for Kel.’”
Coach Kelliher has led the Green Wave to five state titles during his career.
His former players say he hasn’t changed.
“He is still a gentleman first. That’s what we always like to say. That’s what he has always taught us,” said current Abington associate head football coach Ed Reilly.
Reilly, now one of Kelliher’s top assistants, was Kelliher’s quarterback in the 1980s. He said he is going to miss Kelliher’s presence off the gridiron the most.
“One of the first words that comes to mind when I think of him is just class,” Reilly said. “He does so many things that people don’t even realize.”
Reilly said Kelliher gets away from the football field, attending events such as National Honors Society inductions and games for other teams and sports.
“I don’t want to just be thought about as just simply being a football coach,” Kelliher said. “I know that I grew up just like they did and I would have appreciated if I saw my football coach come to my graduation and just shake my hand.”
Being like a second father to more than 2,000 players throughout his career, Kelliher is leaving a lasting impact on his players and community.
“I got to give them some more than simple stuff because they give me a heck of a lot,” Kelliher said.
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