Athlete of the Week: Hugh Kelleher

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Hugh Kelleher, a junior at Gen. Douglas MacArthur Senior High School, is an award-winning multi-sport athlete, continuing his family’s impressive legacy.
(Photo by Levittown Public Schools)

There are plenty of multi-sport athletes across Long Island. But few are as impressive as Gen. Douglas MacArthur Senior High School’s Hugh Kelleher.

The junior star, standing at a modest six-feet two-inches, plays for not one, but three teams at MacArthur. Kelleher splits his time between football, lacrosse and basketball, on top of being one of the premier students in the school’s Class of 2020.

“Basketball, for instance, helps me with my foot work,” Kelleher said, identifying ways each sport helps the other. “That can translate to football and lacrosse when I’m trying to make moves on people. Football helps with physical pain, making me tough and translating to other sports as well.”

Kelleher is attempting to carry on the family legacy. One of his older brothers, Jimmy, holds multiple football records for the Generals, including setting all-time highs in several passing categories, most rushing TDs in a game (five) and in school history (27). Tom, who played at MacArthur before Jimmy, holds school records, too. Combined, the Kelleher name is in MacArthur football’s record book 11 times.

The younger Kelleher came close to the single-game touchdown record, diving into the end zone four times during Sept. 29’s homecoming game against Bellmore’s JFK High School.

“Sometimes, me and my brothers talk about whose teams are better at MacArthur for football,” he said. “Tom thinks his team was the best, but Jimmy thinks his was the best because he won a championship. I think next year, we have the potential to be the best.”
Kelleher became one of the General’s most versatile football players in 2018, serving as a linebacker and running back. In the backfield, he excelled, breaking defenses left and right to rush for 12 TDs on the year with 1,221 yards. On the opposite side of the ball, he recorded a respectable 84 solo tackles to lead the team.

“He was a finalist for the top linebacker in Nassau County and he was a First-Team All-Long Island selection,” head coach Robert Fehrenbach said. “He is a great athlete, but even a better person. With all of the success he has attained, he is a very humble person.”

The numbers Kelleher put up in 2018 were strong enough to place his name on the Nassau All County list, first team All-Long Island and the NYSSWA All-State team Class A. It’s an honor he certainly doesn’t want to forget.

“It really means a lot to be recognized as one of the better players on Long Island,” Kelleher said. “I really appreciate it. One of my goals when I entered high school was to be All-Long Island. I want to win a couple of championships.”

But football isn’t what Kelleher will focus on at the NCAA level. He’s a lacrosse star, playing midfield.

The junior is committed to Cornell University, but hasn’t officially signed with the university. Rather than playing football, he will join the Big Red’s men’s lacrosse squad in hopes of leading the team to the NCAA finals.

“I like the competitive nature of it,” Kelleher said. “I’m a very competitive person.”

With his competitive side taking over, he’s ready for the challenge ahead.

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