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Brendan Kelly, 39, Entrepreneur and Sports Franchise Owner

Jan 04, 2011 09:55PM ● Published by Anonymous

“Family comes first,” says Brendan Kelly, founder/owner of several dynamic companies based in the Annapolis area.The father of five (four boys, one girl) and husband to wife Holly of 15 years, extends his familial philosophy to those who work . . . and play . . . for him. “My employees are like family to me,” he emphasizes. “I truly take satisfaction in helping and watching each develop their potential.We want our employees to be with us for the long haul.”

The entrepreneur has founded three companies since 2000, but most recently made headlines with his sole purchase of the Washington Bayhawks professional lacrosse team in January 2010. He immediately went to task, rebranding the team as the Chesapeake Bayhawks, which plays all its home games at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Then, midway through a disappointing 2010 summer season and with the team at 3 wins/5 losses, Kelly took over head coaching duties and rallied the Bayhawks to Major League Lacrosse’s Championship game, in which they defeated the Long Island Lizards 13-9.“We were at the low point of a long season,” he says of his decision to step onto the sideline. “I told our guys that we needed to play
for the team, each other. Be selfless.We’re not playing for the name on the back of the jersey; it’s the name on the front.”

It’s a credo Kelly learned at an early age from his parents, John and Betty Kelly, who moved to the Annapolis-area from Ireland and raised a family of 12 (Brendan is their 11th child). “My father would tell me, ‘You’re not better than everybody, but you’re just as good as anybody.’” In 2000, Kelly founded Smartlink, a national staffing firm specializing in telecommunications, energy, and government. He also developed a sophisticated “taxi” service for corporate clients, and a commercial real estate firm. The Salisbury University graduate—and member of the Seagulls lacrosse 1995 Division III national championship team—says continued growth in business and sport is his objective in 2011. “Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport on the planet right now. And we want to keep Annapolis at its center.”This August the Bayhawks and City of Annapolis will host Major League Lacrosse’s Championship Weekend, which is expected to draw upwards of 20,000 fans. “Ten years from now, our goal is 20,000 fans filling the stadium for every game,” says Kelly.

—James Houck

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