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No reason provided for Kessler firing

By Matt Schwab
Monday, November 18th, 2013 at 3:04 pm in Uncategorized.

School administrators remained tight-lipped on Monday about the awkwardly timed dismissal of Mark Kessler as San Ramon Valley High football coach one day before the team’s North Coast Section playoff opener.


The move to replace Kessler with interim coach Aaron Becker, the Wolves offensive coordinator, was announced to the players after school on Friday. The Wolves then rallied to beat San Leandro 42-24 in the Division I playoffs at Burrell Field on Saturday night.
The Wolves will face East Bay Athletic League-rival California in San Ramon on Saturday in the NCS quarterfinals.
San Ramon Valley athletic director John Raynor reiterated on Monday that Kessler is still employed as a teacher at the school, where he has taught health, physical education, and football conditioning. He has been teaching at the school since 2004.

A call to San Ramon Valley High principal Ruth Steele was not immediately returned.

The district sent a message to parents of the Wolves players on Friday night, which read: “Mark Kessler will no longer be serving as the Varsity Head Coach/Program Co-ordinator for the SRVHS Football Program. Effective immediately, Aaron Becker will be serving as the interim Varsity Head Coach/Program Co-ordinator.

We are well aware that the timing of this shift in leadership is not ideal, but we have every confidence that our coaching staff have prepared the team well for the NCS game this Saturday. I know that our student athletes will rise to the occasion and make SRVHS proud.”

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  • barononionfb

    Mark Kessler did not deserve to be fired.
    However, the climate in the SRVUSD, especially Danville, is that the school administrators feel they really have to watch their litigious posteriors.

  • Tj

    did he cuss a kid out or something?

  • JM

    @baron..it is not just that way in SRVUSD…its everywhere. Try Moraga/Orinda…they are WAY worse. They wouldn’t know how to back a coach if their lives depended on it.

  • Boom44

    Interesting we assume he did not deserve it. Do you know specifics. While SRVUSD may be conservative, I will assume that the firing occurred with cause, if you are going to cover yourself, I would think that would be true before you actually take action. What I here is that Kessler was given chances and he was arrogant, thought he could do what he wanted. without consequence. I think that you reap what you sow.

  • Perkin

    Well what were the circumstances so we can draw our own conclusions?

  • AlanJobb

    I don’t know the details, but I have known Coach Kessler a long time and he is a good coach and a good man.I know he did a great deal for the program and the kids. I am sure he will land on his feet and be back coaching soon.

  • Boom44

    That’s my point we don’t know exactly what happened, nor do we know what has transpired during the season, that led to his firing. But clearly it was enough to warrant his release immiediatly. I do not think that the school would have done so otherwise. This is not to say Kessler is good or bad rather that he clearly made mistakes. I also know him and think he is a decent enough person, but also know he can be arrogant and has tends to be rather on the negative side when it comes to his coaching style, (this comes directly from players and parents.) Personally I believe that Kessler himself should answer the question, as the school can’t

  • AlanJobb

    I think those are some fair and valid points. I would counter that in 30+ years around the game I have heard almost every coach called arrogant and negative. I have heard many great things about coach Kessler from other coaches and players over the years. Just like in real life it is always the perspective of the person saying it.

    I have know coach since high school and obviously have my own bias. I have heard some of the rumors, but have zero insight as to what actually happened.

    I have also witnessed over by long career of coaching many coaches let go for far too petty of reasons (most to do with complaints from advocates of players who don’t play.) But I have also seen many coaches get away with behavior that isn’t really appropriate. It happens.

    Bottom line, very few know what really happened and I am sure if we did, there would probably be a great divide on opinion if the firing was justified. either way I hope we all don’t rush to judge the man on this one incident.

  • JM

    @Boom44…..all good points. @ AlanJobb..same to you. We don’t know what happened. And having been around high school sports the past 20+ years as a coach myself, I would venture to guess that the majority of these “negative” comments came or come from players who didn’t get playing time, or parents of players who didn’t get playing time. That is usually how it works. The players that play never complain….neither do their parents. Coincidentally, the players that play…..they play for a reason. Because they are better. And because they execute. “Negative” is all relative. Take any successful high school, college, or pro coach and find one glaring commonality. They’re tough. They demand respect. And they don’t settle for mediocrity. And, ultimately, they get the best out of you…whether that is through challenging you, sitting you on the pine to piss you off, or just plain telling you that you need to work harder to EARN your spot. Maybe Kessler is/was a hard case..an arrogant, full of himself, negative slave driver who can’t relate to kids properly. Or maybe he is/was just a dude who cared a whole lot about kids, wanted them to reach their full potential, and wanted to win just as badly, or worse, than the kids themselves. I guess only Kessler really knows the answer to that.

  • AlanJobb

    I agree 100% – this is spot on.

  • chalk talk

    i BELIEVE the head coach should be a good MANAGER and psychologist. A good manager hires good coaches to coach the team. PSYCHOLOGIST mentally prepares his team 4 the task at hand, day in and day out.

  • Boom44

    JM I understand your points and do not argue. What I will say in my last response is this. I have coached,taught and worked with young people for over 20 years myself. One thing I have learned in this time is as a coach/mentor you must change with the times. What was once acceptable is no longer appropriate whether you like it or not. If anyone wants to continue to coach they must adapt, failure to do so will in a paying position create problems as Mr. Kessler witnessed. I have had the pleasure and opportunity to work with College coaches and with some position coaches in the NFL. What I have learned from them is that positive reinforcement and appropriate criticism is usually the best way to get the “best” out of any athlete. Continued “negative” reinforcement, especially in today’s world will usually yield very “negative” results. A lot of research has been done in this area, and this method of positive coaching has demonstrated that it works. My point is that you as a coach don’t have to be negative to be tough and that you can get your points across through other methods other than negative coaching styles. Respect is not given but earned, and I believe that as a coach you need to earn your respect and not demand it, even from the kid that doesn’t play. Talent is talent, but lets not be to naive to think that coaches don’t play favorites and that at times the best player always plays, I have seen that first hand over the years. I know some former DLS players who love the program, they all say that the coaches are hard but positive and believe in the players. I also have direct knowledge from some SRV players that the issues were isolated to these fringe players and that not too many players are broken up by Kessler’s departure, I would encourage anyone to ask some players from SRV if they thought the coach got a raw deal, and I think many of you will be surprised. There are many people who will continue to support Kessler no matter what is said and know one will change there minds, and I don’t have an issue with this, But I would offer to any of his supporters that unless you are part of the program and directly involved are viewpoints are simply opinions and that as I have seen over the years one should be careful about supporting someone too much without knowing the facts, as often times when facts are revealed things change.

    There is obviously a lot of of support for Mr. Kessler, which is fine. But I find it odd that all the comments are about how Mr. Kessler and his issues, but no one seems to want to comment or support the players. We talk about how Mr. Kessler was effected, what about the kids? Lets ask them how they feel? Lets find out if this removal was a positive or negative in there minds. As the bottom line is and should always be that this is about the kids and not the coach. Coaches are there for the kids and not for themselves or there own glory. When and if it becomes about you and not the program you should just step away. JM you state that maybe Mr. Kessler “wanted to win just as badly or worse, than the kids themselves” OK that’s fine but when winning takes precedent over everything than we have lost sight about what HS sports are about. Remember that everyone wants to win, but the reality in sports is that most HS programs do not have winning records not by choice but by circumstance. These coaches still need to motivate and develop the young men in there care, how one does this is be choice. SO I would say lets stop worrying about the relative fairness of Mr. Kessler being dismissed and focus on the players and hope that they continue to have a great post season.

  • chalk talk

    which would yield the best results.

    1. Billy i like ur effort son but lets try and hold him to negative yards next time.

    2. Billy ur better than that son if that kid gains one more got dam yard u’ll be standing next to me 4 the rest of the game!!!

  • Boom44

    CT – that’s exactly my point better to lead than destroy.

  • anonymous28

    from the reasons i heard kessler was fired i would say that it was justified.

  • EBAL fan

    @Boom 44- concise posts. There’s a lot of tiptoeing around when a coach is released. The coaching fraternity is rather tight knit and the circling of the wagons has plenty of precedent, not only locally (see Penn State.) But ultimately, as painful or SMH inducing it may be, the truth must prevail. Since you are connected to the facts, your points should be accepted as valid, although there will always be two sides of every story.

    It’s not always the “bench players” or the “kids not getting enough PT” parents’ who have valid concerns. Some are loathe to go public as the repercussions can be swift and vicious. In fact, there are examples of recent “resignations” where the coach did himself in with arrogance and placing himself and his program above and beyond the welfare of the players and THEIR team. I know some admins DO actually interview players ( in many cases the starter/seniors) to get a true pulse of the problem as Boom indicates in his posting. Kids do not embellish, typically, and easily “get real” when they are asked. Anybody who needs a refresher in how to coach with dignity, positive reinforcement and being to driven to maintain success should study Phil Jackson. It’s probably the same guys who never lifted a finger to read John Wooden’s books.

  • Jack

    Umm… HS Varsity sports are about winning.. and nothing else.

    Obviously academics come into play in regards to them being eligible but once they are eligible, its about WINNING or at least the journey to that (blood, sweat and tears). To tell a kid after he has put in the work that it is not all about winning is a damn insult lol.

  • Boom44 pop

    Jack: I will refrain from saying obvious,but I have to tell you that if you really believe that if winning in HS is more important than school itself that you are somewhat misguided. HS is about education not sports, Do you really really believe that just getting eligible is good enough “really” I hope you understand that most kids football careers end after HS and that obtaining an education should be the primary goal of every parent and student. The attitude that you present is why bad coaches are who they are, because some parents think it’s OK. The insult is to all the parents/students who work hard to get a good education and hopefully move onto College. I don’t know about other parents but I sure don’t want a coach who just wants mediocrity (in the classroom) from his kids, I want a coach who expects the best and wants the best both on and off the field. Jack so in your world winning in HS and working at McDonald’s is good enough? To tell a kid just get a 2.0 (during the season), so I can win this game and that after that I don’t care what you do, that’s not an insult. Wow I guess some peoples priorities are a bit confused. Me I want my kid to get a good education and a good job after college but to each his own. I suppose I’m a loser for wanting that LOL

  • chalk talk

    Boom44
    some people are average in the class room but excellent on the football field and the opposite also exist. UR TALENT IS UR TALENT embrace it!!! The misconception that most mediocre people believe is if they work hard enuff they will be talent. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!!!

  • Jack

    You’re twisting my words to the lowest denominator. Which is fine, because yes.. you are a loser.

    In my opinion, a student-athlete needs to be PRESSURED to excel in all areas. The moment a coach goes in with the mentality that Varsity HS sports is not about winning he/she is short-changing the children. The teachers are responsible for the classroom. The parents are responsible for the behavior at home. And the coaches are responsible for WINNING. VARSITY HS sports needs to be an area where only the STRONG survive, and the children will be better for it as well. We all know that these varsity athletes 16-18 years of age (sometimes a bit younger) are not that far away from the real world.

  • Devon Fortuna

    Everyone has a good point here. Coach #1 job is to shape the young man and teach skills. About winning? Show me a good loser and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t like to win.

  • EB Prep Fan

    What happens if the teachers are inadequate and there are no responsible parents? Then what? If you don’t think that the coaches umbrella covers more than just winning, then your nuts!

  • Jack

    The process of building a winning program will give those kids structure. Just by those kids being there, they want to be a part of something, so they will fall in line with that structure. If they did not want to be there, theyd be in a gang.

  • EB Prep Fan

    “Gang???”
    “Don’t give me the inadequate teacher bullshit???”

    Never mind….

  • Perkin

    I think that High School coach does owe a duty to education. High schools are in the education business not the football business. But what does that mean he is paid a small stiphend compared to the hours he puts in. For the Small amount he is paid what do you want out of a coach or what is expected? Do you want him to spend his time working on homework ect.. or put the endless hours it takes to be just a good football team? I personally think he should support the school on conduct issues and education but he is paid to be a football coach. Thats where his expertise is. Parents and schools should not be laying their issues on a Coach and expect him to give them results. Everybody has to do their part. The other issue which could be an issue at SRV is all need to be in support of each other and each other’s goals.

  • Mark Souza

    There are so many ways to define this unpaid profession that there really is no right answer. I am sure everyone in this position are doing the best they can with the cards they are dealt. I am just going to say I have never been in a meeting where a head coach has said “We are going to have a 3.7 Team GPA this year!”

  • Boom44

    Jack, we’ll since you want to insult let do that. Maybe if you spent more In class you could artculate your thoughts. People like you like to call people losers as you have nothing else to say reasoned arguments and opinions are exactly that. Hope your kids have more comman sense than you. No one twisted your words I merely repeated what you said, I’m so hurt to be called names from a man of your integrity wow actually devastated. I guess in your world only a select few should even be allowed to play sports in HS , the rest should just sit around and do nothing. If you could actually read I never said you shouldn’t want to r try to win but one should consider all factors. More coaches lose than win so I guess they should be fired for incompetence, hey maybe you should coach you seem so suited for such a job

  • Boom44

    Do you know coach carter now at CCC he expected the best on and off the field and was rewarded with one of the best scholarship rates for a HS coach in this area. So maybe not 3.7 but high enough to get into a good college program. Coaches can effect the kids performance in the class and motivate to expect more from themselves

  • Boom44

    Yep jack is right I’m sure every SRV and MV kid that doesn’t play sports is thinking about getting jumped into gang

  • Pez

    I like your comment Perkin.

    I would add that as an extension of the education mandate, high school sports programs should include the concept of inclusion . I mean, if you are all about winning and dog-eat-dog, join a club team, go pro, whatever. But high school sports should try to be for a large population of kids, not just a group of top athletes. Get kids in the program, get them on the field, make them better. Doing it without losing games is the art!

    The flip side is important also. Pitt kept some of their best players out of the Analy game and as a result, at least partially, they lost the game. If their coach was all about winning I doubt he’d have done that. El Cerrito kept some of their best kids out of one game for some off field problems. (OK, I’m cynical enough that I doubt either coach would have pulled players if they thought it would mean the game. Pitt just miscalculated. But I respect that the coach at least made the effort.)

    I’m just saying that sports are part of the education process and not a separate silo set apart from it. When a coach forgets that, he’s gone! At least that’s my perspective.

  • Boom44

    100% agree with you Pez. If we all thought like Jack very few kids would even enjoy the experience of HS sports, most will never play in college so this is there time. Did not know about Pitt and EC whether intentional or not it is good to hear. HS sports is about the experience winning is great but as I keep pointing out not everyone is going to win even when the try there best, so let’s enjoy the experience

  • Mark Souza

    No doubt. Coaches can definitely create that type of atmosphere and he did a great job in doing that. They can also provide opportunities for these guys to be successful.

    I am just a little confused about all the crap people fling around each other on here on this subject. There are so many ways to approach this thing and speaking from my experience, and maybe im just bad at what I do, but this gig is HARD lol.

  • Boom44

    Mark, please don’t get me wrong, I know that most HS Coaches work hard and are doing the best they can especially with decreased funding. My point is that whether anyone agrees or not that when you accept a position as a coach at the HS level you are agreeing in part to be a coach as well as a role model, and that if anyone is not willing to accept that then they should not coach. I don’t know Kessler good enough to make an informed opinion on his integrity. What I do know as that he had a responsibility and rules that he was dictated to follow, clearly he chose to go outside the lines and do whatever he did, that is on him no one else. Spoke to a dad on SRV and he said that the team unity is better than it has been all year and that the kids are having fun. So clearly there was a disconnect when Kessler was there, was it all on him? who knows but as the head coach ultimately everything is your responsibility. These other people who are going in different directions that’s all good, it is a free country.Coaches work hard for little monetary reward, because that’s what they do, and they should be appreciated for the efforts. But like it or not agree or not there are also bad coaches who shouldn’t be coaching, that is my point.

  • Boom44

    Jack: by the way not as hard as you think to get a job, I know of at least one person who was hired full-time as she spoke Spanish, no background in teaching. Know another hired with no credential. Pretty tough ringer they went through to apply.

  • Mark Souza

    Well if true hopefully Kessler learns from the experience and is successful again elsewhere

  • chalk talk

    THE REASON Y trent richardson will never be a good back in the NFL 4 points of pressure.4 points of pressure doesnt allow u 2 have the balance u need 2 be elusive. SHOW ME A BACK THAT PREACHES 4 POINT ILL SHOW U A BACK WITH A SHORT CAREER… I guess is ok in high school if the BACK is bigger and stronger THAN THE rest of the kids. THE TOLL on ur body FROM TAKEN ALL THOSE IMPACT BLOWS just anit worth it man.

  • chalk talk

    U have 2 have (good cop coaches on ur staff and bad cop coaches) some one has 2 tell u ur a piece of crap to piss u off and some one has 2 say he didnt mean it.
    NO-ONE wants to play 4 a coach if winning is not the #1 priority. If u think 4 one moment that a player runs into some one full speed sacrificing his body and risking injury, 4 ANYTHING else . The only thing the allows u to have that type of commitment is the drive 2 WIN!!!!

  • mudhen

    The usual reason in business at least, that a person is terminated with prejudice is severe insubordination.As far as terminating a coach right before an important game, I can think of no other possible reason other than a legal issue (which would be made public) for such an action.