May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Uni’s highly-successful tennis coach John Kessler back teaching after being hospitalized

Members of the Santa Margarita girls soccer team unveil a welcome back banner for Uni tennis coach John Kessler during a CIF playoff last week vs. Uni. (Photo courtesy Kessler family)

University High’s highly-successful and popular long-time boys and girls tennis coach John Kessler is back teaching after being hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage in November but will take some time off from coaching.

Kessler was hospitalized while his girls team was playing in the Southern California Regional championships. The team went on to win without its head coach.

“I  had a subarachnoid hemorrhage,” Kessler said in an E-mail Monday to OC Sports Zone. “They still don’t know exactly what caused it.

“I spent four weeks in the ICU and one week in the general hospital.  I was sent home and was on bed rest for the month of January.

“The neurosurgeon gave me the green light to return to work on Feb 3.  Apparently this was a lot earlier then what was thought by just about everybody involved. I have been back at Uni teaching my classes.”

Kevin Garrett has been named the interim coach, Kessler said. Kessler has led University to the CIF finals 18 times (11 for the boys and seven for the girls) and led the teams to 12 CIF titles.

“I hope to assist the tennis team in some capacity but Kevin Garrett will assume head coaching duties, Kessler said.

Kessler said he has not been back on the tennis courts since his return to school.

“I have to be careful with overstimulation and how animated I can get in any situation,” he said. “I still get very fatigued and have to monitor my recovery.”

Kessler said he has received plenty of support.

“I have been so touched by the support, prayers and generosity that so many people have shown during this experience,” he said. “I am truly appreciative and grateful for everything.  One particular moment came last Thursday at Santa Margarita High School. My daughter and the Uni Trojans were there for a CIF soccer playoff game.

“Before the game the Santa Margarita soccer team walked out with a banner welcoming me back.  Very classy and very touching.

“This has been a humbling experience.  I am grateful to be alive, very appreciative and have a renewed faith in humanity.”

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com