In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Evanston Township High School had no trained soccer coach, said John Kessler, a member of the varsity team at the time. The baseball coach, Coach McGonagle volunteered. “I remember him walking around with a book in his hand and saying, ‘What’s the next play?’” says Mr. Kessler.
Those plays were apparently good enough that just a few years later, five Evanston players made the first varsity soccer team at Northern Illinois University: Mr. Kessler, his twin brother, Jim, Richard Karsten, Bob Chester and Mark Agnello. In 1961, soccer was a club sport at Northern Illinois University. A year later, when it became an official sport, those five ETHS athletes were on the team.
Mr. Karsten and the Kessler brothers, two of them retired middle school teachers with 60 years of coaching soccer between them, returned to NIU this summer, when the University marked 50 years of soccer. Jim Kessler came from Arizona, his brother from Evanston and Mr. Karsten from Florida for the expansive celebration.
John Kessler said, “The fact that three of us could get together – and still be walking around – was itself remarkable.” He added, “While this almost seems like yesterday, it seems very far away when I think that if it had occurred in 1962, those returning after 50 years would have played in 1912.”