BOONTON _ On the soccer field, Emily Kelly was known as "the groundhog" for her knack of being omnipresent.
The Boonton High School sweeper was, in the words of coach Pete Nosal, "all over the place."
"Emily flies across the field," Nosal said. "She gets the ball upfield. She wins it first. Emily made a statement on the field every game. She's short but physically strong and gives it all she's got."
Kelly, who will attend Syracuse University in the fall, applied intensity and ambition to everything she did, not only sports and academics. In the fall of 2015, Kelly had her first book, "A Goblin's Tale: The Search For King Seadna and Prince Rian," published.
She managed to write the 167-page book while busy with many other endeavors. It took Kelly, who lives in Lincoln Park, approximately seven months to pen the book and an additional two months to add a chapter and revise it while involved with athletics and an abundance of school activities.
"It was a lot," Kelly said. "If I had a full week, I wrote all weekend. I had a notebook and wrote down ideas. I've always loved "Harry Potter," "Lord of the Rings" and other fantasy stories. They speak to me so I came up with my own."
The book revolves around 15-year-old Boath, also known as "Bee," who is half goblin and half elf. He goes off on an adventure in the forest, intent on solving the mystery surrounding the disappearance of King Seadna and his son, the young prince. While in the midst of what turns into a dangerous quest, Boath realizes he, too, is involved and the answers he is seeking are part of his destiny.
"I have a great love for history," she said. "I feel it's super important. You can't continue on if you don't know what happened before. I enjoy history from the progressive era through the present day."
"A Goblin's Tale" evolved from a story Kelly was going to do for the school newspaper, The Wampus. However, the assignment "fell through." Shortly after, Kelly expanded upon a short story she wrote for Cindy Tserkis-Schlitt's English class. It appeared in three parts in The Wampus.
"I thought it was great. Just awesome," said Frank Dunn, a history teacher and Wampus advisor. "The quality of Emily's writing is amazing. The characters were very well developed and you can identify with them. The plot is interesting and easy to follow. It's a page turner. I didn't want to put it down."
She incorporated the traits of her friends into the characters. The names of the characters are traditional Irish ones. For example, Ceallach, pronounced "Cal-lick," means "bright-minded" and Treasa means "strong."
Very soon after her book was published by Glannant Ty, Kelly, who hopes to have the 250-page second part completed within a year, became a bit of a local celebrity, doing signings and a Lunchbox Lecture and reading to students at various elementary schools.
"Many people came up to me and said 'Oh, my God, that's so cool' and congratulated me," Kelly recalled. "They wanted to know what the book was about."
The endeavor wasn't without some challenges and trying moments. Waiting for the publisher's response was nerve-wracking. Kelly, who receives 60 percent of the sale of each book, experienced writer's block at times. She prefers to write at night.
"That was tough," Kelly said of the instances when her words stopped flowing or ideas didn't materialize. "I'd drive 15 minutes to a cul-de-sac that had three houses on it. I looked at the New York City skyline or walked around a bit. I like being outside and nature so it usually helped."
How did Kelly, a four-year starter for the soccer team and a guard for the basketball squad, keep up with her hectic schedule?
"I'm motivated. I want to succeed and I manage my time well," she said.
She credits her father, Michael, with sparking her passion for reading and writing. Kelly's dad read the "Berenstain Bears" to her every night. She also appreciates the support of Tserkis-Schlitt and Dunn.
Nosal initially was taken aback when he learned Kelly, one of his tri-captains last fall, was writing a book.
"I've never had an athlete who has done anything like that," Nosal said. "Emily told me and I was like 'What?!?' She surprised me every day. Emily has a lot going for her. She's tough on the field but kind-hearted. You feel comfortable when you talk to her. Emily's easy to get along with. Emily would tell me when there was a problem with the team and wanted to resolve it."
Teammate Amanda Santiago looked up to Kelly and admired her for being humble.
"If someone was down, Emily would tell them not to worry," Santiago said. "She's a leader. She'd tell everyone what to do... Nicely. Emily didn't yell at anyone."
Although mild mannered and soft spoken, Kelly, intent on writing for television, hopes her written words will be meaningful and powerful.
***Kelly's book is available on Amazon.com***