Wren excelled as All-American athlete, coach


Ellie Palaian

Wren outside of her AP World History classroom at Midtown

Ellie Palaian

At Midtown, Kelly Wren is known for her skillful teaching of AP World History. What students don’t know is that Wren was a two-sport All-American athlete at LaGrange College, and a successful high school coach. 

During her collegiate career, Wren played softball and volleyball at LaGrange College. 

“I played travel softball all over the nation through middle school and high school,” Wren said. “But volleyball, I was late to and just fell in love with. I loved them both, but softball was more of my primary sport.”

Throughout her collegiate career, Wren accumulated a number of awards. For softball, she was named conference Freshman Player of the year, conference Pitcher of the year, team MVP, and an All-American.

Wren’s volleyball honors included: Three All-American recognitions (USCAA, NCAA and NAIA),  USCAA National Player of the Week and National Leader for Kills and Aces.

“I was a little bit of a big fish in a small pond [at LaGrange],” Wren said. “I don’t know that I ever really thought about it. I just really loved to play.”

In 2008, Wren started teaching and coaching at South Forsyth, where she built a volleyball program from the ground up. 

“We ended up playing for a state championship within the first five years or so of building that program,” Wren said. “It took a lot to build a program, but those kids have gone off and had great success.”

One of Wren’s former players, Amanda Nugent, played at The University of Montevallo in Alabama and Northeastern University in Boston. Nugent credits Wren for preparing her to play in college.

“She’s the whole reason I ended up being able to play in college,” Nugent said. “She spoke with the Montevallo coach, and I got a full ride to Montevallo. She believed in me when a lot of other people didn’t, and she made that very clear, and helped me throughout the entire process.”

Another former player, Shealyn McNamara, played at Auburn University and Rutgers University and is currently playing professionally in Germany. She also acknowledges Wren’s help throughout the recruitment process. 

“She was the first person to send out film for me to some coaches,” McNamara said. “The reason I ended up at Auburn was a connection through her.”

Nugent admired Wren’s determination as a coach.

“She had high expectations of us,” Nugent said. “She expected us to win the region every year because she had so much faith in us. She was always like ‘let’s look at that next step. We won region, but now let’s look at state.’ We always had something to keep pushing forward to.”

Wren’s impact on her players has followed them far beyond their high school careers.   

“She’s one of those people that was so instrumental in the early stages of volleyball for me that when I think back on my journey, she always comes to mind because she just had a really big part in all of it,” McNamara said.

Wren continues to be loved and missed by her former athletes.

“She’s still a very special person to me,” McNamara said. “If there is anything good I can say about her, I take the opportunity to do so.”