Heart of the matter
By KARL PEARSON
In the space of 35 years, Kelly Boggs has accomplished many things in which
anyone can take pride and more than most people have on their resumes.
It's been that way since she was a little girl. A member of one of Ashtabula
County's most renowned families, Boggs has more than lived up to her
In her relatively tender years, she has had opportunities as a
foreign-exchange student to Japan, work as an intern with the state
legislature, participation in a prestigious legal firm, administrative
duties at Ohio State University's law school and roles as a wife and mother
in a growing family.
But ask the daughter of Ashtabula County commissioner Bob Boggs and Judy
Simak about the things she has achieved, and she numbers a rather different
accomplishment as one of the more memorable, and surprising, highlights of
her life. It all happened in her senior year of 1987-88 at Jefferson High
School, when she was chosen Star Beacon Ashtabula County Player of the Year
for girls basketball.
"I really was excited when I was chosen County Player of the Year," she said
in a telephone interview from her home in Columbus. "That was a big
accomplishment. I'm probably more proud of that than getting my law degree."
She was the second Jefferson player to receive All-Ohio recognition, the
first being Di Anthony, who did so in 1986-87 and repeated the honor with
Boggs in their senior season.
Boggs is part of a family with rich athletic tradition, too. It would appear
she has moved to the head of the class, though, with her induction April 2
into the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation's Hall of Fame. She will be
enshrined in ceremonies at 6 p.m. that day at the Conneaut Human Resource
"This is a nice way to relive my youth," she said. "(Notice of her
induction) took me back to those days. I definitely thought people had
forgotten. It's nice to know they haven't.
"I was kind of shocked by it. I'm grateful to people like Rod Holmes who
helped make it possible."
Even though he's only 5 years old, Boggs' oldest child, Cooper, has gained a
whole new respect for his mom. Her husband, Ted Lape, was also impressed.
"I told Cooper this makes me famous up in Grandpa Bobby's backyard," Boggs
said with a laugh. "I think my husband was surprised, too. I think I've gone
up in stature a little."
Three-year-old Sydney and 6-month-old Aidan Robert (the middle name after
her father) may not be able to comprehend it all yet, but it's likely
they'll eventually benefit from the skills of their talented family on the
athletic field. Mom figures to be right there to impart her knowledge.
"We're real sports fans," she said. "Cooper is in soccer, T-ball and
swimming and Sydney is in tennis. We have a program called Sports for
Shorties the kids participate in.
"I hope to coach T-ball. I've always wanted to find a way to work with young
women and help them with their creative side."
Folks who had a willingness to work with a young girl who wanted to test her
skills athletically, as well as in other pursuits, helped set Kelly Boggs on
her path. It started out with her family, but there were plenty of others
who helped along the way.
"I grew up in a family culture of sports," she said. "I've always heard
about my dad's exploits and my uncle (Ross). We had hoops out in the
driveway. I played in (Jefferson Area Girls Softball) when I was little,
She really got excited about basketball, though.
"The seventh grade team was the first organized team I played on," Boggs
said. "In fifth and sixth grade I knew it was on the horizon. Liz Toukonen,
Kim Mauro and Linda McClintock were the coaches. From Day 1, it became
"When I was in sixth grade, I went to a camp at Edinboro (University). I was
the youngest player there, but I was chosen the Most Improved Player. After
that, I decided maybe the game was for me."
Actually, Boggs had also developed interest in the sport from a seemingly
"(ACBF Hall of Famer) Beth Helfer from PV was a big influence on me," she
said. "My cousin Sue played for her, and I used to go to the PV games to
watch her play. I was always impressed with the way (Helfer) worked with her
team, and she was always willing to help girls from other teams, too, and
really encouraged them. I think she deserves a lot of credit."
Her freshman year was a bit of a struggle, though. She and Di Anthony, who
will join her in this year's ACBF Hall of Fame class, started as freshmen
for coach John Patterson. The Falcons were 1-20 that year.
A new sheriff came to town from Bristol for her sophomore year as Holmes
arrived. But Boggs wasn't around for the first year of his tenure. The
Falcons were 2-19 that season.
"I missed my sophomore year while I was in Japan," she said. "I went there
as an exchange student through the Rock Creek Rotary Club."
When she got back, she found out what she'd been missing. In Holmes' second
year, the Falcons took off, finishing 16-6 and winning the Grand River
Conference in their final year there, with Boggs a big part of the
"I loved Coach Holmes from the beginning," she said. "He always exuded
positiveness. I always felt he was excited about me and the girls.
"He was the gentle giant. He never got mad. He might get a mysterious little
smile on his face like, OWhat were you thinking?" but he never yelled. He
always used to laugh about our girl issues."
Boggs quickly became aware that something revolutionary was happening with
Jefferson basketball when she returned from Japan for her junior year. She
knew there was plenty of talent among the female athletes at Jefferson, but
Holmes brought it out on the basketball court.
"I came in for open gyms in the summer before my junior year and I could see
Coach Holmes had a plan in the making," Boggs said. "We had several really
good athletes like Di, Ronda Carter in softball, Kelly Clark in track and
Pauline Hamper and Shelly Skeels."
Holmes quickly came to appreciate Boggs' talent, especially her nose for the
ball and her tenacity.
"Probably the thing I remember about Kelly the most was that it seemed like
wherever the ball went, she was there," he said. "She always seemed to know
where the ball was. She seemed to have an uncanny response in finding the
A team that had been so close to winning several more games than the 2-19
record it achieved in Holmes' first year was completed with the return of
Boggs and the arrival of 5-foot-9 freshman Jackie Whitbey.
"Kelly came back at just the right time," Holmes said. "We learned a lot
that first year. We lost five or our last seven or eight games by two or
three points. We could have used Kelly that year. I think she would might
have made the difference in winning those five games.
"Kelly and Jackie Whitbey were big additions for us underneath. They were
our inside game."
Boggs and her teammates brought another element to Jefferson girls
basketball - academic excellence - that has become another Falcon tradition.
"Kelly was a super student, too," Holmes said. "When I came to Jefferson, if
they didn't have practice right after school, the girls would stay around
and do their homework out in the cafeteria until practice instead of going
home. Kelly and the rest of those girls set the tone for what we have now
with our girls in terms of academic excellence, too."
It all really came together in Boggs' senior year. It is a memorable year.
"I'll never forget those magical moments," she said. "It was just like my
body took over.
"I was only 5-6, but I was playing under the basket. I just felt I could
outjump and outhustle everyone. In the county, I felt I could outrebound
anybody, that I could be a little feistier. When we hit the district finals,
I realized I couldn't do that anymore."
It didn't prevent the Falcons from rolling to the Northeastern Conference
championship in their first year in the league. They didn't stop there,
either, eventually reaching the Division II regional semifinals before
losing to Champion before a huge pro-Jefferson crowd at Stow High School.
Ironically, the Golden Flashes were led by center Tracy Lynn, who went on to
a fine career at Kent State University. Now, as Tracy Dawson, she teaches at
Jefferson Elementary School.
It was truly a memorable season for Boggs.
"I remember the community support," she said. "We got a police escort when
we came back into town. I remember thinking we'd finally made it.
"The tournaments my senior year were special. I felt I was playing at my
best at that time."
There is good reason for Boggs to say that. In Jefferson's 56-40 sectional
championship win over Ashtabula, she set a single-game school rebounding
record at that time with 24. In a thrilling 70-67 district semifinal victory
over Beaumont at Chardon, she scored 29 points and grabbed 20 rebounds.
Holmes could always depend on her skills around the basket.
"At her size, it was amazing how many rebounds she got," he said. "I think a
lot of that was because of her hard work and intelligence. She was
unbelievable. To be honest, I believe she could still play in there."
The balance of the 1987-88 Falcons was so strong that coaches and the media
decided to divide the top individual honors that year between Boggs and
Anthony, with the former chosen County Player of the Year and the latter NEC
Player of the Year.
Their statistics are remarkably similar. They each averaged 10.7 points a
game for their careers. Had she played her sophomore year, Boggs would
surely have exceeded 1,000 career points. She graduated having scored 717
points over 67 games and left Jefferson as the school's fourth-leading
career scorer at that time behind ACBF Hall of Famer Shellie Crandall.
"That program was built with a lot of blood, sweat and tears," Boggs said.
"Coach Holmes made it a lot of fun along the way."
Some thought was given to trying college basketball at a Division III
school, but Boggs wanted to expand on the knowledge of Japanese she had
obtained and use it toward career objectives. She opted for Ohio State,
earning her degree with a major in Japanese in 1992.
"I thought a little about college basketball, but I wanted to major in
Japanese and do an internship, and I knew I couldn't play Division I ball,"
Boggs said. "Now, when I look back, I might have tried to play in college.
I've always felt I would like to do some coaching."
Her course was set, though, toward the legal profession. Her path took her
to DePaul University, from which she earned her juries doctorate in 1998.
She returned to Columbus and worked for several years for the firm of Vorys,
Sater, Seymour and Pease. She remained there until recently, when she took a
job at OSU's Moritz College of Law as the assistant director of career
Heart of the matter
"I help law students find jobs," she said.
Her basketball lessons still have applications.
"The important message is that as a lawyer, you have to be competitive,"
Boggs said. "I look at basketball as one of the joys in my life development.
It gave me the tenacity to practice law and the understanding of the hard
work it takes.
"It helped me build the confidence and self-esteem it takes to practice law
with and against people from schools like Harvard and Yale and show that you
can stand toe-to-toe with them and not be intimidated. I felt I could hold
It also helped her develop a trait that even her family doesn't understand
"I think single-mindedness is one trait that has stuck with me," Boggs said.
"That's something I'm trying to develop in my kids.
"I think Cooper has that single-mindedness. I think my daughter has the
feistiness. I think my husband sometimes wishes I had less