IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Kelley nominees talk about the honor

Chapin Jewell
Special to the News Tribune
Jonah Edward Kelley Award nominees Darrick Broadwater, Drae Allen and Bradley Sommers took time recently to talk to the News Tribune about being considered for the honor.

KEYSER - If your intention is to earn recognition and distinction as a J. Edward Kelley Award nominee, one thing is for certain, you can’t be living your life under a rock.  

The nominees for this prestigious award are at the forefront of activities, be it academically, athletically or through community service. Such is the case with Drae Allen, Darrick Broadwater and Bradley Sommers.

If you were the one living under the rock, perhaps you didn’t know the three nominees. You do now, and you’ll be impressed.

Athletics, scholarship and community service. Combined, these three attributes describe each of the three nominees and their collective resumes perfectly.

In athletics, all three are accomplished multi-sport athletes.  

Allen, the son of Latia Washington and Dwight Allen, is a four-year member of the football and track teams, having served as captain of both squads. He was named Offensive Player of the Year and First Team All-State for football.

Broadwater, the son of Jeff and Mendy Broadwater, is a four-year member of the basketball, baseball and golf teams. He was named All-PVC in golf, was a PVC and AMAC golf champion, a regional golf champion, sectional basketball champion, and named second team at the Big Shots VA Basketball Horizon Classic All-Tournament team.

Sommers, the son of Royce and Shannon Sommers, is a four-year member of both the football and baseball teams.

All three are accomplished academically.  

Allen has maintained a 4.03 grade point average, has earned the honor of being chosen to attend Boys’ State, is a Goldsworthy Scholar, and has been on the honor roll. Allen was also elected into membership in the Academic and Math Honor Societies.  

Broadwater has maintained a 3.27 grade point average, has earned the honor of being chosen to attend Boys’ Sate, and has been on the honor roll.  

Sommers has maintained a 4.03 grade point average, has earned the honor of being chosen to attend Boys’ State, was elected into membership in the Academic and Science Honor Societies, and is a completer of the Natural Resources, Wildlife and Greenhouse Program at the Mineral County Technical Center.

In terms of community service, all three have been active in their community.

Allen has volunteered with the food pantry, K-8 track meet, and the youth football camp. Broadwater has volunteered with the Christmas and Easter programs at his church.  Sommers has volunteered with various Ruritan groups, given blood, and helped with the greenhouse and planting of trees.  He also assists the Potomac Highlands Guild with special needs events.

Within the past week, each nominee participated in an interview and were asked to explain their thoughts on being nominated. What follows represents their responses to the questions.

First, each was asked their initial reaction upon receiving the news that they had been nominated for the Kelley Award. To a person, each expressed not only being excited and honored, but also pointed out the fact that there were many, many talented senior student-athletes who could have been nominated as well.

“Immediately upon receiving this award I felt honored to be a representative of the character Mr. Kelley portrayed during his time on earth. Along with honor, I felt relief to be a nominee as all of my friends and I were anxious to hear who would be selected,” Allen stated.

According to Broadwater, “I was honored and excited to be nominated for Ed Kelly. I was very nervous at first, but I’m very excited. I have been to the Ed Kelly many times and just knowing the person Ed Kelly was and the sacrifice he made makes this a very special nomination.”

“When initially hearing of even being in the running for this award I was excited! I was definitely ecstatic when getting called into the office and officially getting the good news of being nominated,” Sommers stated.

Next, each nominee was asked whether being selected as a nominee for the Kelley Award had been a goal of theirs. As one would expect, each answered the question in the affirmative.

According to Allen, “I would consider it more of a motive than a goal, because I was more concerned about exhibiting some of the same genuine attributes Mr. Kelley did in order to make others around me more positive. Although, ever since I was introduced to the program in eighth grade, I have aspired to be like the other great men selected for the award as well as Mr. Kelley.”

“I can remember attending the Ed Kelly ceremony back in middle school and thinking how cool it would be to be up on that stage one day. Now to think I am a candidate; it is a dream come true and almost hard to believe,” Broadwater explained.

According to Sommers, “Being selected as a nominee was a goal of mine since the first ceremony I attended my eighth grade year. When I first heard of this prestigious award, I made it my number one goal to just be nominated.”

The third and fourth questions asked each nominee to describe not only what being nominated meant to each of them, but also to give any thank you or words of appreciation that were in order. The nominees each described being humbled and honored, and offered words of appreciation to family, coaches, teachers and friends.

“To me, it ultimately means I have done my part in improving the community and made the most of that by evoking positivity while setting an example for others as Mr. Kelley set one for me,” Allen stated.

According to Allen, “Initially, I would like to thank God for giving me all these opportunities in life and guiding me through the path he desires. I would also like to recognize my former coach, Coach Biser. He introduced me to the football program which was the ignition of my successful high school career. He embedded many life lessons that have stuck with me to this day in order to portray a good character.”

“Coach Furey, Coach Stephen, and Coach Staggers contributed to my high school experience as well. These men collectively supplied me with wisdom I will recall on throughout my life. Academically, Mrs. Logsdon and Mrs. Piraino played a key role in pushing me to surpass the average level. They didn’t let me settle for less by always giving me challenges instead of just looking for an easy solution,” Allen explained.

According to Broadwater, “Being nominated for Ed Kelley is an honor. When I first attended the Ed Kelley program, I saw Ed Kelley as a great athlete, which is what I wanted to be. Each year I attended I understood more and the value of being a great person and not just an athlete. I am thankful that my peers see me as a good athlete and a Godly young man.”  “I need to first thank God for the abilities he has given me. My parents who encouraged me to chase my dreams and would not allow me to slack off. My coaches who dedicated their time to help to me to become the best player and person possible and my teammates who have always had my back during good times and bad,” Broadwater explained.

“Being nominated for this award means a lot to me! It means that all the many hours of work I put in on the field and in the classroom have paid off. It means that I have followed this honorable example Ed Kelley had left to follow and that means a lot to me that I was able to be nominated for such a prestigious award,” Sommers explained.

According to Sommers, “I want to thank my mom and dad for having helped me understand the definition of hard work and always being respectful. They taught me hard work pays off both on and off the field. Every coach I have ever had.  Coach Stephen, Coach Staggers, Coach DelSignore, Coach Biser, Coach Rohrbaugh and Coach Healy, for having helped me through many years of sports and all the time I had put in they were there to help.”

“I want to thank Mrs. Julie Sions, Mrs. Carol Webb and Mr. Brent Ebert for helping me in all my community service through the FFA. The many tree plantings and other community service I have done. I also want to thank my mom for giving me an opportunity to help out at Potomac Highlands Guild where she works, with many special needs groups and activities that helped to teach me a lot,” Sommers detailed.

Yes, there will be a winner selected for the J. Edward Kelley Award. It’s safe to say, however, that all three nominees have already demonstrated they are winners in their own right.  Just like the award’s namesake himself, that’s something all of Keyser can be proud of.