In the late summer of 1995, Bob Kelly dreamed up an idea for a local volleyball tournament at Durango High School. Over the last two decades, the Durango Fall Classic has become anything but unremarkable. Instead, it’s become unquestionably the most prestigious and competitive high school volleyball event anywhere in the country.
“I have a hard time accepting that it’s the top tournament in the country, simply because I never thought it would be in that position,” said Kelly. “I thought it would be a good, solid regional tournament. I’m very proud of how it’s evolved. It lives its own life.”
A California native, Robert (Bob) Kelly began at Clark in 1978 and, with O’Quinn assisting, led the Chargers to the first of their five state titles in 1981. Their 1989 squad featured future Olympian Charlene Johnson Tagaloa, and his final two teams went a combined 56-1. In 1993, Kelly and O’Quinn moved to Durango and continued working together
By 1997, the two had led Durango to a state title. The Trailblazers also won the 1999 boys state crown. Durango’s 2002 and 2003 girls teams lost only one set to a team from Nevada and won back-to-back state crowns.
After 30 years of coaching , Bob retired after delivering a combined nine state titles in boys and girls volleyball at Clark and Durango.