At seven years old, Mount Vernon High School junior Kelly Loftus played her first game of basketball on the court her father built behind the family home.
It was on that court that Loftus, her sister Devin and her father Tom poured large amounts of sweat and logged countless hours perfecting the basketball skills that would earn her state and regional accolades years later. Basketball has always been a part of the family.
“My dad first taught me basketball; he’s always loved it,” said the Mount Vernon sharp shooter. “We had a basketball court in the backyard, and we’d go out there and he’d teach me how to shoot. I just ended up loving it. It’s just a family thing. My whole family loves it.”
Loftus wrapped up her junior campaign in February and helped guide Mount Vernon to one of its most successful seasons to date. The Majors won 25 games and defeated Yorktown 66-47 in the National District tournament championship. The Majors’ two losses on the season came against eventual state champion Oakton.
Loftus boasted a remarkable season resume which included scoring 396 points, grabbing 81 rebounds and scoring in double-digits in 21 of the team’s 25 games. And with one season remaining in her high school career, Loftus hopes to build on last year’s success.
“I think the season went pretty well. It was a stepping stone to getting to the state championship and the state tournament,” said first team All-Northern Region selection. As for as her personal assessment, she said: “I just want to keep getting better and be better than I was last year. This year I focused on assists and making my teammates better.”
While Loftus remained nearly unstoppable offensively, her head coach, Courtney Coffer, claims it was her defensive play that contributed to much of Mount Vernon’s success. Loftus netted double-digit rebounds in the last few games of the season and ended the year with over 130 steals.
“A lot of people take notice of her because of the things she does offensively with scoring the ball, but the things she does defensively goes unnoticed,” said Coffer. “We are at our best when she’s playing at her best on the defensive side of the ball.”
Hofstra University took notice of Loftus’s talents and offered her a scholarship, naming her the crown jewel of the 2013 recruiting class. The 5-foot-10 guard verbally committed last November, choosing the New York school over fifteen others that showed interest.
“A lot of schools were recruiting me at the time, so it was hard to choose,” she said. “But there was no comparison. The coaches really treated me like I was part of the family, and I bonded really well with the team. I also like that it’s so close to New York City because I love to shop.”
And while she won’t graduate from MVHS until 2013, Loftus has already drawn an academic blueprint that she ultimately hopes will lead to a career in journalism or communications.
After earning First Team All-Northern Region, First Team All-National District and a The Washington Post All-Met honorable mention this season, it's hard to imagine what Loftus has in store for her senior year. And opposing National District foes will still struggle with finding the correct defensive scheme to contain her.
“She can flat out duel. She can shoot the ball. She can take it to the basket. She can handle the ball. She has great court vision,” said Coffer. "She’s going to be scary. Next year, she’ll definitely push for All-Met Player of the Year."
For Tom and Gwen Loftus, watching their daughter progress from backyard family pick-up games to leading Mount Vernon to a National District title is a memory they’ll cherish deeply. In them, Loftus has her biggest supporters.
“We are both proud of Kelly. But with basketball, she has to continue to work on her game to improve,” said Tom Loftus. “She’s a good athlete, and basketball’s a very athletic sport. If you have the skills and athleticism, and put it all together, you’re going to shine."