Courtesy of: Brian Kessler
As professional sports teams around the country struggle to create safe seasons, Athletic Director Brian Kessler works with the Missouri Sports High School Athletic Association (MSHSAA) and other groups to create a safe return to sports for students.
“When we had to tell kids last spring that they couldn’t play sports that was crushing. The decision came from people at a much higher level and it was out of our control,” Kessler said. “There are a lot of unknowns out there. We don’t have a good handle on the virus and there are a lot of unknowns of what is gonna happen this fall.”
Deciding on plans has proved difficult as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
“Everybody is going through difficult times. The difficult part is providing a place for our players and coaches to come together and meet the players’ needs emotionally. There’s more disappointment than difficulty right now,” Kessler said.
COVID-19 has been a learning experience for not only students but also for staff trying to work on safety precautions.
“I learned how to contact trace, screen athletes and how to be patient. But I feel like I am communicating inefficiently,” Kessler said. “I used to be efficient [with giving out information on time] but everything is hard because once we get ready to send information out, things change.”
Kessler, among other coaches, misses the connections with students that sports provided.
“[I feel] frustration, sadness, joy and happiness in different ways. In a small sense, I think if we pull kids and ask them if they miss staff, coaches and school they would say they did, a lot. Maybe we mean more than we knew for these kids,” Kessler said. “[Kids] understand how hard we work and how much we care about them. Coaches have the same emotions as the kids.”
Life isn’t all planning for Kessler though, retaining a sense of normalcy helps him get his mind off of work.
“I love being with my family. I try to get my son ready for the SEC baseball season and get my daughter ready for her junior year of high school. I also cook and workout a lot to keep myself busy,” Kessler said.
Being an Activities Director comes with behind the scenes work as Kessler attempts to find the best solutions for all students.
“Every decision won’t be popular, but we can always try to make the best decisions possible. Making everyone happy is not possible, but we try our best and make it student-centered,” Kessler said.