Kessler Is Franklin’s Gift to KP’s Baseball Program

KEN HAMWEY Staff Sports Writer
Greg Kessler
Issue Date: 
March, 2018
Article Body: 

Greg Kessler is the new baseball coach at King Philip and his addition to the Warriors’ athletic staff is a gift from neighboring rival Franklin High.
The 29-year-old Kessler, who was a captain and an all-star in football and baseball at Athol High School, has coached both Franklin’s freshman and junior-varsity baseball squads during the last four years and he’s also been an assistant in football for four seasons. The Warriors, who hired Kessler in September, obviously liked his four winning seasons at Franklin, but more importantly admired the way he developed players for varsity action.
Kessler, however, deflects any praise to Zach Brown, Franklin’s varsity coach whom Kessler credits for sharpening his coaching skills and preparing him for a higher level.
“Zach taught me what it means to be a head coach,’’ Kessler said. “He taught me how to shape a team, how to conduct drills and how to be efficient in practice. I also learned how important it is to see kids grow in their ability. Every aspect Zach approached was done in a professional way.’’
Brown said he’ll miss Kessler but he’s delighted his assistant now is a varsity coach. And, he looks forward to the two Franklin-KP games. “Greg worked his way up the program at Franklin and we’re very proud of him,’’ Brown noted. “He’s passionate about coaching and cares about his players. Greg has great character, he’s organized and he works hard on player development. It’ll be fun to coach against him.’’
Kessler’s goals for the Warriors are all about elevating them to a lofty status. And, he wants to achieve that objective by attracting players who are “energetic and enthusiastic.’’
“I want to create a program that’s competitive and focuses on the players improving every day,’’ he emphasized. “And, I want our program to be a source of pride for years to come. We’ll do what it takes to get KP to qualify for the tournament and to compete for the Hockomock League title. I want energetic and enthusiastic student-athletes who are motivated to win games together.’’
An Army National Guard officer for the last eight years, Kessler’s teams won’t rely on one facet of baseball. They’ll be ready for all situations. “We’ll rely on small ball, power and strong pitching, whatever’s needed,’’ he said. “Our kids will be prepared for all situations.’’
And, as for his personal style and approach, Kessler wants his players to model him. “As KP’s coach, I’ll be energetic and enthusiastic and I’ll want our players to reflect that,’’ he noted. “I want pride associated with our program and to develop that it’ll involve hard work, weight training, winter conditioning and classroom excellence.’’
Gary Brown, KP’s athletic director, is pleased with the appointment of Kessler. “We’re excited to have coach Kessler lead our baseball program,’’ Brown said. “He’s a leader who will not only teach the game of baseball, but also teach the life lessons that will develop well-rounded, impressive young men.’’
Kessler already has met many of the players and candidates for the varsity and he met with many of them one-on-one after the football season. When he meets his players on day one of preseason camp, the message will be all about details. “I’ll stress that it’s all about paying attention to detail,’’ he said. “Focus on the little things of your craft and you’ll improve every day.’’
Kessler earned his bachelor’s degree in English at UMass-Amherst and later got his masters, also at UMass, in education. He originally enrolled at Norwich University where he played football and baseball as a freshman. An ROTC cadet at Norwich, he injured his back and later transferred to UMass. He taught at the middle school level in Athol for a year, then joined the faculty at Franklin where he’s taught eighth-grade English at the Horace Mann Middle School for the last five years.
Kessler, who’s engaged, is a native of Athol and now lives in Franklin.
Pleased that his new role will keep him in the Hockomock League, Kessler labels the circuit as “the best in the state.’’ And, he’s acutely aware of how strong and powerful teams like Franklin, Mansfield, Stoughton and Taunton are. “KP was attractive to me because it’s in a good area with good kids,’’ he said. “And, the teams we’ll be facing are competitive and have quality athletes.’’
Familiar with schools that draw from several towns, Kessler views his baseball prospects from Wrentham, Norfolk and Plainville as all part of the KP community. “Players may be from different towns but I see them all as part of KP,’’ he emphasized.
Kessler’s coaching experience and military background will play a role in his helping student-athletes to learn valuable life lessons. “Athletics is a great way for youths to learn how to be resilient,’’ he said. “And, it’ll show them that hard work pays off.’’
Kessler liked his role in Franklin — he liked seeing freshmen become varsity starters. He also liked seeing players grow into their roles.
Greg Kessler now will get to experience those situations at King Philip at the varsity level.