The designation “Renaissance Man” isn’t used frequently these days, but it describes a person of many diverse talents and of eclectic interests. Some of the people most deserving of and who best exemplify the title were literally men of the European Renaissance, including Henry VIII, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Leonardo daVinci. Bono of the rock group U2 and the actor James Franco are often identified as modern-day Renaissance men.
In my personal experience, the best example of a Renaissance Person is my friend Kelly Croy. If you don’t believe me, check out this link: https://kellycroy.com/. Kelly’s official job title is the Director of Innovation and Instruction for the Port Clinton City School District. In that position, he works tirelessly to keep Port Clinton’s administrators, teachers, and students in the vanguard of those implementing technological advancements to enhance instruction and learning. If Kelly’s day ended there, it would be more than enough to sap the energies of any typical human. Kelly Croy, however, is not your “typical human.”
In addition to his primary responsibilities as the husband to Lorrain and four daughters, Kelly is all of the following and more: an Eagle Scout, an Apple Distinguished Educator, an illustrator, a performance artist, an expert on leadership and mindfulness, an internationally-in-demand speaker, an author of two books, the brain behind and the voice of two podcasts, and a devoted friend of too many to name.
I’m sure I’ve left one of his many hats on the rack. I often wonder when the man sleeps.
I first met Kelly nearly twenty years ago when our mutual friend Del convinced us both to compete with him in the Rock-and-Roll Sprint Triathlon in Cleveland. On first glance at Kelly, I couldn’t imagine he and I would have anything in common. Kelly is a tall, broad-shouldered man. I am neither. As a proud member of the Irish diaspora, he possesses a bold, outgoing, and welcoming personality. Me? Not so much. His disposition is best described by using his own most-used word: awesome. He exudes positivity from every pore. I tend toward the glass half empty mindset. I soon discovered my first impression to be wrong.
After slipping into the bench seat in Kelly’s mini-van, within five minutes, I felt as if I’d known Kelly my entire life. He’s that kind of guy. As it turned out, we had much in common. In addition to possessing a passion for physical training, we were both “English” teachers with a shared love of literature and the dream of being published authors ourselves one day. A former rugby player in college, he was a high school football coach at Oak Harbor High School, and we shared several mutual coaching friends; also, I had only recently ended my own football coaching career. In addition, we were both big fans of U2.
My forever-friendship with Kelly was cemented, however, when, after checking into our shared hotel room, this big man disappeared into the bathroom only to burst out wearing only his tiny, purple, race-day Speedo. It’s an image that has been seared into my memory. I’ll always believe Kelly had intuited my extreme nervousness regarding the next day’s race and, you know, fear of drowning, and he purposefully found a way to make me laugh and to settle my anxieties. From that moment on, I’ve known that whether it be in the midst of a triathlon or in the travails of daily life, I have another friend who will always have my back and will never let me drown, literally or figuratively.
You can follow the link below and listen to Kelly’s interview with me a few years back on his podcast The Wired Educator:
My dream of being a published author would never have become a reality without the encouragement and undying faith in my talents with which Kelly has showered me since the beginning of our friendship. He, like all great teachers/coaches/mentors believes in me more than I believe in myself. I shared my gratitude to Kelly in the Acknowledgements for my first novel So Shelly, which earned me the title of Random House Author:
Quite simply, the greatest accomplishment of my professional career; my one claim to a modicum of fame; my opportunity to share a dais with such distinguished authors as Ellen Hopkins, Carl Hiaasen, Katheryn Stockett, and Lauren Groff (although none would remember me at all); and my forever place in the catalog of the Library of Congress would not have been possible if not for Kelly Croy. How can I ever thank him for that?!
In numerous ways, my life and my person have been made better by Kelly. I know that I am just one of the many who can make that claim, including the audiences he’s reached through his speaking gigs and podcasts, former students and players, former and current colleagues, his friends, and most importantly, his family. Kelly is truly a force of nature. Anyone who gets swept into his wake should consider themselves to be one of the fortunate many.
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