Kelly Kulina: Eulogy
While today is certainly a very sad day as we mourn the loss of a family member, dear friend, and trusted colleague I am here this morning to speak about the wonderful man that Kelly Kulina was and to celebrate everything he stood for. As the President of Baseball Factory and someone that helped to bring Kelly into our Company, it was an honor to have been able to work with a man day in and day out that exemplified so many wonderful qualities. Kelly was loyal, honorable, incredibly hard working, dedicated, sympathetic, and had such integrity. He will be dearly missed by everyone that was blessed to know him.
Back in 2001, when Kelly decided to work full time with us, it was such a tremendous turning point in our history. He was so well respected and connected in the college baseball community and his addition to our team really helped to put us on the map. To use a sports analogy, it was like a middle market MLB franchise that landed a big time free agent in the offseason. It totally changed the face of our Company and Kelly’s impact and legacy continues to live on today and will be indelible into the future. I knew he would do a remarkable job when he told me during his interview that he always wanted to help players that tried out for the Univ. of MD baseball team while he was the coach, that weren’t quite ACC caliber players, but had a chance to play somewhere in college if they had more direction and knowledge of the college recruiting process. With that conversation as a backdrop, Steve Sclafani and I knew we had found the right man for the job.
If we fast forward to today… through his work at our Company, Kelly has made the dream of playing college baseball a reality for thousands of players across the nation. What a tremendous gift he was able to provide for these families that will last for a lifetime.
I will miss Kelly dearly. More than a co-worker he was a true friend and confidant. Over the 8+ years we worked together, I think we traveled almost 40 times on various business trips, many of which we flew, roomed, ate, and drove around together in our rental car. Our routine on these trips was to get up early and workout. Kelly would always scout out a gym that was close to a smoothie place. We would grab a smoothie and head out. Kelly and I were a dangerous combination in a rental car because neither one of us were blessed with a strong sense of direction. Almost every trip we took we were bound to get lost at least once as we were trying to find a baseball field. Thankfully GPS came out a few years ago to give us a better chance of finding our way. We would always laugh about how before GPS we had to use “the force” to find out where we were going.
He was such an incredible communicator, but he was an even better listener. For all the years I knew him, I don’t think he ever interrupted someone even once. He always gave you his full attention, and made you feel special. We all can learn a valuable lesson from Kelly. He was a great example of living in the present moment. On our trips, we often spoke to large groups of Baseball Factory players and their parents about the college recruiting process and I always enjoyed having to keep Kelly on track because everyone that knew him knew that he loved to talk, and if you weren’t careful we could have been there all night. We had a system where I would give him a sign and he would quickly wrap up from telling one of his “quick” stories that we all enjoyed listening to so much.
I think many people dream of having a fulfilling career where they can honestly look themselves in the mirror each day and say they went to work at a place they loved, for a mission they were passionate about, and doing work that truly made a difference in the lives of the people they touched. We all can have some peace knowing that this was the case for Kelly. Coupled with the loving support of his wonderful family (Le Ann, Kell, Lavin, and Josh) he truly lived a remarkable life.
From spending time with him and Le Ann, it was evident to all that they had a special marriage built on mutual respect, love, and affection. We would talk frequently in the office about how excited he was for their date nights and their quality time spent together. He was a committed father and loved his three children dearly.
It is amazing and inspiring to see the number of quality friendships that Kelly had in his life. Looking around this room today, and reading the numerous emotional and touching memorial blog posts that have poured in, his relationships were everlasting from his childhood, baseball playing career, his coaching years, and time spent providing professional service to families across the country. What a great legacy he has left during his gracious lifetime.
I know I speak for everyone at Baseball Factory when I say…Kelly, you will never be replaced, and you were truly one of a kind. Rest in peace my friend, and may God bless you and your family.