Last Updated: Thu Nov 03, 2022 - 7:44PM
After longtime Derry Area baseball head coach John Flickinger stepped down from his position following last season, the Trojans did not have to look far to find his successor. On Thursday, the Derry Area School Board approved Flickinger’s varsity assistant, Tommy Kelly, as the new head coach of the program.
Kelly, a 2006 Derry Area grad, had his sights set on the position for a long time.
“A whole bunch of thoughts rushed through my head – what we’re going to do in the future. Me and my assistants talked about this for months now,” he said of his reaction after his hiring became finalized.
Kelly returned to his alma mater on the staff in 2017, serving as the middle school head coach. Since 2018, he has guided the junior varsity, while also working alongside Flickinger as a varsity assistant.
Perhaps with an eye to the future, Flickinger expanded Kelly’s duties this past campaign, including shifting him to coaching third base.
“He was trying to ease me into the duties this past year,” Kelly said of Flickinger. “I learned pretty much everything I know. It’s been great having John as a mentor.”
Describing himself as bleeding “blue and gold”, Kelly played for the Trojans before continuing his baseball career collegiately at Westmoreland County Community College for two years. Following that stint, he played at Penn State Altoona. After his graduation, Kelly played semi-pro baseball in the Desert Sun League in Arizona.
He’s now come full-circle, and hopes to continue upon the success that Flickinger had built during his tenure.
“I’d like to keep building on what Flick has left for me, and maybe turn it into a WPIAL powerhouse,” he said of his long-term aspirations for the program.
Flickinger guided the program for 11 years as the head coach, but had been coaching for 23 years total, including a stint as an assistant at Penn-Trafford. This past spring, the Trojans posted a mark of 11-7, falling to New Brighton 2-1 in the WPIAL Class 3A first round.
"I'm elated and excited for Tommy to lead the program," Flickinger said. "He worked extremely hard to become a well-rounded assistant coach and I am confident he is more than ready to take on this new position at his alma mater."
"The program is in good hands and I'm very proud of him."
In 2021, he helped guide Derry Area to its first section crown since 1992, when Flickinger was a senior standout for the Trojans.