After seven (7) years at the helm of the Lady Raiders’ basketball program, Coach Yoneko Allen will transition to a new role with more administrative responsibilities in 2020-2021. Laurens District High School (LDHS) will still see a familiar face pacing up and down in front of the Lady Raiders’ bench as JV Head Coach Aianna Kelly takes the reins in leading the girls’ basketball program in Laurens County School District #55 (LCSD 55). LDHS Athletic Director Tommy Spires said, “We are very excited about moving Aianna up to lead our Lady Raider Basketball program. She is a great person and more importantly brings the passion necessary to lead our girls to success on and off the court. I look forward to working closely with Coach Kelly and giving her the support she needs to be successful”.
Kelly just wrapped up her first season as the Head JV Girls Coach for the Lady Raiders in the 2019-2020 season. Kelly originally arrived in Laurens County in 2013, when she began her career as a four-year member of the Presbyterian College (PC) women’s basketball team in the Big South Conference. During her time at PC, Kelly played in nearly every contest, missing only eight games due to injury, and was a key player for the Blue Hose.
As a sophomore, PC made Kelly a captain along with three seniors and she represented the athletic department on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. In her junior year, she received a Big South Conference Honorable Mention Award and played in the semi-finals of the Big South Conference Tournament. In her senior season at PC, Kelly was a pre-season first team all-conference player and led her team to the semi-finals of the Big South Conference Tournament.
Ronny Fisher, Head Coach at Campbell University, was the Head Coach at PC for three years when Kelly was a player for the Blue Hose. When asked for comment about Kelly’s new position, Fisher said, “Aianna Kelly is a tremendous hire for Laurens District 55 High School and for the Laurens Community in general! I had the privilege of coaching Aianna for three years at Presbyterian College and I watched her develop into an amazing leader for our program. She is one of the most competitive and driven players that I have ever coached and she has a heart for others that is special. Aianna embodies what true ‘servant leadership’ is all about. I have no doubt that Coach Kelly will build a great program at Laurens and she will provide an outstanding positive role model for her athletes each day.”
Kelly graduated from Presbyterian College in May of 2017 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management and a minor in Sociology. In 2017-2018, Kelly was an Assistant Coach at Davis & Elkins College with the Senators Women’s Basketball team in Elkins, WV. She returned to PC as an admissions counselor in 2018-2019 and expressed an interest in continuing to coach with the Raiders’ basketball program. Kelly took advantage of the chance to become the Raiders’ JV Head Coach for the 2019-2020 season and now, with Coach Allen’s transition, she has the opportunity to lead the girls’ program throughout LCSD 55.
Kelly is originally from Newport News, Virginia. She played basketball all four years at Woodside High School. In her high school career, she helped lead the Wolverines to three district titles and three district tournament titles with a 78-9 overall record.