By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Kelan Ivy became a regular face in the home of Johnny and Faith Washington during his adolescences years.
Ivy was a Memphis product and the baby of a nine-children household. His humble beginnings made his crave the structure and discipline of the Washingtons’ household. Faith transformed from Ivy’s teacher to his mother. Meanwhile Johnny grew from his coach to his father.
Once Kelan’s biological mother agreed to the Washington family adopting her son to give him better opportunities in life, Ivy excelled as a student/athlete at Munford. And the highlight of his Munford athletic career came April 28 in the office of Munford Principal Dr. Courtney Fee’s office when Ivy signed his letter of intent to play basketball for Don Rekoske at Bryan College.
“We adopted him at the age of 13,” Johnny recalled. “He went to Humes for middle school. After he left Humes he went to Manassas for a year. We adopted him and got the rights to his education so we could try to get him into college. When he came down he started playing for Munford High.”
Ivy invited parents Johnny and Faith along with grandparents Charles and Carolyn Hayes for his signing ceremony. Also in attendance was his little sister Drayah Washington.
Joining the celebration was Munford Head Coach Ryan Ross and Rekoske.
Rekoske made the trip to Munford last year to sign guard Queyon Mills. The work and development of Mills has given Rekoske a strong trust in Ross’ program.
“The kid that came to Bryan from Munford a year ago is doing very well,” Rekoske noted. “He really likes it at Bryan. I love Queyon. He’s doing great.
“But I am excited to sign Kelan,” Rekoske continued. “He’s a true point guard. He really passes the ball well. He can affect the game in a lot of different ways. He can rebound at that position. He can defend at that position. He can get into transition and get to the hole. He can do a lot of good things. We do have one of the best players in the league coming back as a senior point guard. When that kid graduates, Kelan is going to be making everybody else’s life tough as far as the competition.”
Ivy became tough on District 13-3A foes this past season.
“Before my senior year I was much of a role player,” Ivy acknowledged. “I didn’t have to be. I saw that I wasn’t aggressive enough. It took me a year to find that out. I saw that even though you’re not scoring you can still bring something else to the team. I went from not scoring and not being a leader, to being one of the best people in the conference. I took it upon myself to lead the team.”
Ivy was an All-District 13-3A and All-Region 7-3A performer. He led Ross’ Cougars in most offensive categories this past season.
“Words can’t express,” Ross said. “Highest character kid I’ve coached and that’s going back five years of college coaching. I can’t say enough about this kid. I’m super proud of him. He has come a long way as a player and even further as a leader. For all the things he did on the floor for us — which was everything. We’re going to miss his leadership the most. I just couldn’t be more proud of a the kid. I wish I could have a 1,000 more of them.”
Ross said Ivy made his second season at Munford go smoother helping the large amount of sophomores adjust to varsity basketball. But the leader of the Cougars said life has groomed Ivy to be a leader.
“Kelan has an incredible heart,” he said. “The thing about Kelan, and this may come from his background, he’s so selfless. He’s learned early on that it’s more than just about him. This year we were so young and he was the only one who had a lot of experience from my first year.
“We’ve lost so much off that first team,” Ross added. “For him this year, he never got really frustrated or down. He just kept motivating those young guys and kept helping them along.”
Now Ivy will be one of the young guys on the Bryan College roster. The Lions play in the NAIA’s Appalachian Athletic Conference. Former Cougar Mills will help Ivy’s transition to college basketball and the Bryan program.
Rekoske said Ivy’s potential is unlimited once he gets a year of studying on and off the court under his belt.
“No other kid in our conference has those physical gifts,” he noted. “So he’s going to have an advantage. He’s an intriguing talent. He’s only going to get better. This past year was his first year really, really stepping up to the plate. I’m guessing in two years, you’ll see an even better player.”
The Washington family has seen Ivy become a better person and grown into an impressive young man winning academic and athletic awards at Munford.
Johnny said signing day was a huge step in Kelan’s life and a part of the promise he made to his family.
“It means the world to us,” he said. “That was the goal for the jump when we first got him. Our goal was to make sure he got to and will go through college. So we’ve just got half of the goal done right now.”
Johnny said Kelan’s physical gifts were apparent on the field and court. But those nights over his house illustrated a child eager to learn.
“I saw the potential for him to be a well-rounded good citizen.” he recalled. “He has all the tools. He’s respectful. He handles peers well. He handles adults well and he doesn’t have a problem with authority.
When you have a child and a scholar who can handle things that well at that age, with me being a mentor, I wanted to get my hands on him to help groom him a little bit.”
Kelan said he is grateful to the Washington family for taking him in and increasing his chances to reach college.
“It’s been a long, long road,” he said. “A lot of trails and tribulations but I’ve made it through growing up in Memphis. Going from some bad environments to coming here. I’m thanking my family.
“Family means the people who care about me, the people who just take care of me and who seek me throughout the day,” Ivy continued. “I would like to thank my immediate family. I would like to thank my Mom. I would like to thank my Mom and Dad for adopting me. There were once my teachers. I used to play football and he was my coach. They saw fit that I needed to be in a better environment. So they took it upon themselves to seek me.”
Ivy said he hopes a child struggling to come up will see his story as a living example you can make it if good people invest in you.
“It speaks for itself,” he said. “I just thank them a lot for trusting in me and believing in me. Them trusting my family and my family trusting them.
Coming in (at Bryan) I’m going to put school first and always praise the Lord,” Ivy added. “I’m going to play my heart out there on the court. Just keep pushing, it’s never over. Never give up on your dreams because if there is a will, there is a way.”
Washington said his son has made all his family, Memphis and Munford proud.
“It’s the best thing you can ask for as a parent to see your child go to school for free,” he concluded. “That was the goal. My wife and I stuck with it and kept God first. We tried to instill that in him to keep God first, stick with the plan and stick with the process. It means the world to us, our entire family and his immediate family too. We’re all super excited and it’s a win-win for everybody.”