June 16th, 2024

Hall of Fame volleyball coach coming to Lethbridge


By Lethbridge Herald on December 1, 2022.

Photo Submitted John Kessel will be in Lethbridge next weekend to teach coaches how to like the game of volleyball through his train and reality philosophy.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

USA Volleyball and American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee coach John Kessel will be in Lethbridge to host a coaching clinic at Chinook High School next week.

Since 1985, Kessel has worked under the national governing body of USA Volleyball as its director of  sport development.

He serves as the staff liaison for disabled programs USA Deaflympic teams, Starlings USA, National Parks, Recreation Association, the YMCA and for over 30 other  affiliated organizations related to USAV.

Kessel has been a coach since 1971 at a collegiate level or above and has included Women’s Open titles in 1986 and 1987.

It was shortly after that he wanted to teach the science behind learning which was called the Master Learning Science.

“I started doing camps in 1973 and that’s where I decided to not coach collegiately per se at the same level as a lot of my friends, Russ Rose and some great coaches at the collegiate level in the US,” said Kessel.

In the camps ,the players would do training in a three-day very intense session for months.

“And each night, we would say how could we make it better,” said Kessel.

“We came up with some very effective ways to learn that I still use. But I found if I did a court , which I did in the early 1970s, it was great–12 great kids, maybe 15 in your group or whatever. They loved it, it was fun.  But when I realized if I could get even 12 coaches, let alone sometimes  we had 30 coaches in  a session. You get all 30 coaches to be better, they would then go back to their schools and club and have at least 12 more kids having a better time , if not more. When you teach something, you learn it. So I was always, and I still (was like)take what you just encountered, pondered and hopefully learned and share what you learned with others because you’ll learn it better.”

Kessel approaches volleyball coaching with a train and reality philosophy and will be teaching that to local coaches.

“So it’s going to be all this train and reality, and how to make it fun and give anybody a better love of the game,” said Kessel.

“It’s my contention that if you give new people in their first three or four years a love of the game and they encounter a not too great coach, they work their way through it. But when they threw me in the Hall of Fame at the AVCA, a couple of people spoke about their record in like 800 (wins) and 300 (wins), which is not bad, that’s a lot of year of coaching and a lot of wins …

“I’ve coached at the Pan Am Games, a team leader for the gold medal team in 2000 for Sydney for beach doubles. I’ve been court side working with our Paralympic women’s team that have  won the first bronze medal in 2004 for the paralympic sitting team … But with all these different places, I said, ‘I don’t know how many matches I’ve won or lost; I’ve never tracked it. I can only tell you this, that around 40 kids quit playing volleyball the year after I coached them.’ Those are my losses.”

He provided a simple example  of standing against the wall and the kids looking at their coach.

“They’re going to have way more attention than what we’re talking about, then if I just naturally stand out anywhere else on the court and the kids can see the other courts in practice happening,” he said.

“And they’re going to be looking at that, not me, because they’re humans. That ball flying in the distance is way more interesting than what coach is talking about. I say that in this effective and efficient thing. I do a lot of what’s called a guided discovery. I don’t tell the coaches answer, I don’t tell the players the answer. I ask questions until they discover the answer which can take longer but we have three days or two days or full days.”

The John Kessel Coaching Clinic is on Dec. 10 at Chinook High School and registration can be done at www. lethbridgevolleyballclub.com/camps-and-events until Dec. 9.

The coaching clinic is collaborated between Lethbridge Volleyball Club and Chinook High School.

Other accolades included a team leader for the 2000 USA Olympic Beach Volleyball teams in Sydney, where he took home a  gold medal  at the 2004 Athens Olympics as a part of the USA Paralympic Women’s Sitting Volleyball team where he won a bronze medal.

In 2013, he was the 60th member inducted in the AVCA Hall of Fame.

Kessel has played overseas in Italy professionally for the Alessandria Volleyball Club and has won 16 U.S. Open Championships and is a seven-time Regional Champion as a player.

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