Broadcaster Charles Wollin had the chance to chat with Defender Robert “Bubba” Kelly this week after making his debut for the Club during the U.S. Open Cup as a substitute as well as starting his first game for the Iron and Gold in Fresno.
So… Nick from Malibu or Bubba from KC? Your first introduction to the Club was pretty memorable one, right?
Yes indeed it was. The supporters at the game were very loud and were nagging me and everyone else on the field non-stop during the game. There wasn’t a single moment of silence and I loved it. Especially the “If you cant play for City play for State” chant. It was very clever and even had me laughing.
What prompted you to turn to the fans and just, say, you know what, I’m going to say something? (Bubba to fans: Thanks, I’m actually going to be on the team this Summer!)
Me personally I’m not one to just let people talk crap about me, without saying something back. I know it’s not really something you should do as a player, but the supporters are very good at getting under peoples skin and I just wanted to say something that could shut them up, haha.
That’s quite clever back, I must say… why Bubba not Robert?
I guess I choose Bubba over Robert because I don’t know a single person that calls me by my actual name. The only time my real name is ever heard is when my mom is mad a me. Everywhere I have gone I’ve always had a nickname, and here in SF it’s Bubba. I also feel like when you have people calling you by your nickname it forms a more personal relationship with people.
You had your professional debut for the club this past week, first as a substitute against C.D. Aguiluchos and then the full start and 90 minutes against Fresno, how’d it feel?
It felt great to make my debut for the club. I felt physically fit and mentally prepared for both games. There were some nerves but I felt as though I was well prepared and ready to make an impact in the game when the opportunity presented itself. Were the two games I played in the results I was hoping for? No, not at all. I expect to win every game and end up with an assist or goal in every game I play.
Love the yellow card in the first 20 minutes of the Fresno match by the way, you were quite fired up…
One thing you will learn about me when I play is that I have a desire to win every tackle I go into. I hate losing out on a tackle, missing a pass or shot, and getting beat individually. I take it very personally when any of those things happen. Being one of the smallest players on the pitch you have to show the bigger guys that you aren’t scared of them, can tackle just as hard as they can, and show that you aren’t the one to mess with. Also I’m the type of player that loves a nice hard tackle. The first hard tackle you make sets the tone for the rest of the game and often puts some fire into your teammates. If you’re a prissy little player and can’t handle a tackle, expect me to be putting a tackle in on you every single time you touch the ball in order to throw you off your game.
You made up a defensive consortium of fellow SF State Goalkeeper Manny Jimenez and players from crosstown school USF (Christian DeLuna, Kevin Gould and Kamron Crow). What’s that relationship like? Was there a sense of pride representing SF for you?
The relationship is good considering we had only been playing together for just two weeks before all playing along side each other. It’s hard to get into a good groove with players you are new with. But we are all good players and know our roles and are able to adapt to each other’s styles of play. Being from the same city but being in different divisional standings there is definitely a sense of pride coming from my part. Being in the lower division of the NCAA, the players in the higher NCAA division may think you are not as good as them. You just want to show them in training that even though you are in a “lower division” you are just as good as them, if in some cases better.
You led SF State in assists this past year, whaddup with that?
Well this past fall Coach Barnes had me playing left and right mid. Therefore, I was able to be in the attack more and create opportunities for people to score. With the opportunities I created, we had the personnel to put the chances away and because of their ability to do that they helped me to have the most assists on the team.
You’re one of our younger guys, what are you most excited about for this experience in the PDL?
I am excited to play against and with players that have a lot of experience under there belts so that I can learn from them and become a better player.
Kansas City has gone through a recent renaissance with sports. Sporting KC won the MLS Cup in 2013 and the Kansas City Royals (gasp) were in back to back World Series’, capping off a 2015 Championship. Coming to SF where there is a winning sports mentality here, are there any major differences between the two?
I don’t think that there are any major differences between SF and KC. Both cities have die hard fans that support them even when the teams are doing poorly and it makes for such a great atmosphere to play in and be a part of!
We’re told you’re an avid GoPro wizard, care to share?
I really didn’t get much into the GoPro world until I came to SF and met my roommates/teammates Manny Serrano and Joe Rousseau. They took me on adventures with them and showed me all the sick videos and photos they’ve taken and it made me want to get into the world of GoPro. So I ended up buying one for Christmas and have been really into it every since!
Who’d you have your money on at Go Kart Racing, Ash Watson or Manny Jimenez? Manny Jimenez
Favorite restaurant in the City: The Grove
When I’m not playing soccer, I am: Doing homework or going out and doing things with my GoPro.
Are you in school as well this summer or do you have an internship? In school
You can follow Bubba on Twitter: @robertkelly21 and Instagram: @r_kelly21