New Warriors Athletic Director is Wheeler Alumnus

February 7, 2020

After an extensive search, The Wheeler School is delighted to name alumnus Sean Kelly ’02 as its new Athletic Director to succeed longtime AD Jon Donahue upon his retirement at the end of this school year.

The all-time basketball scoring leader and two-sport athlete at Wheeler, Kelly has been at his alma mater for the past ten years as a member of the Wheeler Enrollment Office, Varsity Boys Basketball coach, an Upper School English faculty member and as a liaison to the communications office for online and social media and athletics program public awareness. A Rhode Island native, he and his wife, Sarah Oster Kelly, have two children. 

Kelly is a Coach of the Year recipient in Basketball for 2013, 2014 and 2018 and was named USA Today’s Boys Basketball Rhode Island Coach of the Year in 2018. He has been President of the New England Prep School Athletic Council Boys Basketball Coaches Association since 2015 and has served on their Executive Board since 2011. He also serves on the Rhode Island Basketball Coaches Association´s Executive Board and the Rhode Island Interscholastic League Boys Basketball Realignment Committee. 

Coach and referee talk at basketball game.
Wheeler Athletic Director Sean Kelly ’02 with IAABO Board#84 referee Paul Murphy at at Wheeler Basketball game.

Head of School Allison Gaines Pell said in her announcement, “In meeting with various constituencies throughout the search process, Sean Kelly’s love of Wheeler, his passion for all types of sports and all kinds of scholar-athletes, and his deep understanding of the strengths and opportunities presented by this position were evident. 

Kelly said in accepting the position, “At its core, the Wheeler experience is about building relationships, fostering passion, and envisioning possibilities. There is no more significant honor the School could afford me than the opportunity to help cultivate these experiences for the next generation of Wheeler students as its Athletic Director. As a proud alum, I am thrilled to be part of this exciting next chapter in Wheeler Athletics; a program that has garnered tremendous growth and success during Coach Jon Donahue’s tenure.” 

Similarly, Neeltje Henneman, as Chair of the Search Committee, said “Even with three excellent finalists, the feedback we received from all constituencies was clear. Sean’s deep understanding of Wheeler athletics culture, his ambitions and vision for the program, and his love of working with young people made him the perfect choice.”

Donahue is retiring after 41 years as a coach and Athletic Director for the Wheeler Warriors program. During his tenure, 81 championships have been achieved by Wheeler athletic teams.  He was named Athletic Director at Wheeler in 1994 and served as Head Coach for both Boys Varsity Basketball and Boys Soccer who earned 12 championships. Wheeler will honor his career this Spring.

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