Coach Spotlight: Meet the Kesters
Kerry and Krista grew up together in Neligh, Nebraska – then population of about 1700. Having survived being high school sweethearts, they married in 1974 while attending UNL. Both went on to graduate from UNL College of Law – Kerry in 1979 and Krista in 1990. They continued to live in Lincoln until 2005, when they moved to a farm about 25 miles southeast of Lincoln. Krista is now fully retired, and Kerry is “mostly” retired.
They started coaching –
like many – when their boys’ various teams needed someone to take the reins. First it was softball and basketball (familiar sports to both Kerry and Krista); then it was soccer (by contrast, almost an unknown to them). Their lack of experience with the game was common, however, because soccer was just getting started in Nebraska in the 1980s and most coaches had never played the game or seen it played at a high level. They learned the game through coaching courses, spending hours on the sideline with established coaches, and playing in local adult leagues.
The game became a passion for them. Their sons played and they coached. Most of time, they did not have a son on the team they were coaching.
Kerry and Krista each acquired a USSF D license and NSCAA National Diploma. Kerry also has a USSF C License.
Coaching has provided lots of special opportunities for the couple. In 1993, they were introduced to Huw Williams, one of Kansas City’s most successful coaches. Huw, a native of Wales, was looking for players to form teams that would travel to Wales and England to compete in international tournaments. In addition to providing 7 players for the trip, Kerry took over the coaching of the U12 team and finished 2nd in a tournament in Watford, England. The trip was repeated the following year with Krista providing administrative support for the group. In 1994 Kerry’s team won the Royal Mail tournament in Portsmouth, England. Between 1993 and 1997, dozens of Lincoln and Omaha players (boys and girls) made that trip.
Their lengthy tenure in the sport means there are lots and lots of familiar faces. A number of current SOFC coaches were players when Kerry and Krista were getting started coaching – among them, Paul Grandgenett, James Beckmann, Ben Damewood, and James and Mike Dean. Paul Grandgenett was one of their favorite referees and frequently was called upon to referee friendly matches with out-of-town teams. On one occasion, while Paul was in high school, he and his parents traveled to Kansas City to referee a weekend of friendlies. Regrettably, a hail storm swept through causing significant damage to his family’s station wagon. A number of SOFC players on the Kesters’ current teams are children of players with whom they worked – such as Kylie Fitzgerald (SOFC Lincoln Elite 09G) whose father is (“JO”) and Connor Klem (SOFC Academy Black 2011 boys) whose father is John. To their knowledge, there are no grandchildren in the playing ranks yet, but that might not be too far away.
If you ask why the Kesters have devoted so many years to coaching they will tell you it comes down to three things. First, coaching provides the opportunity to foster a passion for the sport and to equip young players to enjoy the game at whatever level they aspire. Second, coaching provides an opportunity to create meaningful memories for their players – moments onto which they can look years later with fondness. Third, and most importantly, coaching provides an opportunity to help young people develop the skills they will need to be productive members of society. Children need to understand priorities in life – faith, family, and school must come above play. Children need to learn how to be part of a team that places team success over individual “wants.” Children must learn that life is frequently difficult and disappointing, but that you can and will succeed if you persevere.
Without question, coaching has been fun for the Kesters. Their “life on the farm” has been utilized frequently for training sessions and team events. The hay field has been mowed short and marked for week-long team camps and early spring training when regular practice facilities were not useable; the horses have been painted during team-building activities; and the riding trails have hosted scavenger hunts for various teams.