Kessler
Kessler

Tom Kessler said he still has some years of coaching left in him.

So, he understands his most recent move may raise some eyebrows.

York College announced Tuesday that Kessler will resign as the Spartans' wrestling coach following the 2012-2013 season, bringing an end to a tenure at York College that began in 1990. But for the program to continue to be successful, he believes more has to be done.

"There have been changes at the college. I'm a part-time coach and one of the few out there," Kessler said. "It's time to make this a full-time position."

All head coaching positions at the school are full-time except for wrestling, field hockey, men's and women's tennis and women's soccer. The men's and women's swimming coach was the latest position to bump up to full-time status this past summer, according to Paul Saikia, York College's assistant dean for athletics and recreation.

"I've been frustrated. For 21 years I've been asking them to make this a full-time position," Kessler said. "But it's time to move on. Hopefully (assistant coach) Duane (Bastress) will take over and hopefully they make it a full-time position for him."

It doesn't sound like that change will happen in the immediate future, although it's something Saikia said the school is working toward.

"Our intent is to have full-time coaches for all of our sports eventually. It's been a systematic addition for us," Saikia said. "Wrestling is part of that game plan for us. It probably isn't going to happen this year for any of our sports. But hopefully we'll keep moving forward."

Accomplishments: Kessler said he will continue to teach full-time at Northeastern Middle School, where he is a geography teacher. He has worked for the school district the last 12 years.

He'll also cherish all the memories he's had at York College over the last 21 years, during which he's compiled a 304-133-3 record and helped 13 Spartan wrestlers earn All-America honors.

"I tell the kids that the No. 1 reason you're coming to York is for academics," Kessler said. "You're not coming to York to become a professional wrestler. And the neat thing is I'm still really close to a lot of my former wrestlers, some whom are now police officers."

Kessler's best year came in 2006, when he led the Spartans to the school's first Metropolitan Conference championship and a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Division III tournament, which marked the highest finish for the program. A member of the York College Athletic Hall of Fame, Kessler has been named the Metropolitan Conference Coach of the Year four times, most recently getting the honor last season.

A 1985 graduate of York College, Kessler compiled a 75-15 collegiate record as a wrestler for the Spartans. He was a three-time NCAA Division III qualifier, placing fourth at 126 pounds his senior year to earn All-America honors.

In March, he and Bastress will be inducted into the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III Wrestling Hall of Fame, where they'll join Rich Achtzehn, who compiled a 184-96 record in 18 seasons as head coach of the Spartans before Kessler took over. Bastress, a Bermudian Springs High School graduate, is a former two-time D-III national champion, earning the crowns wrestling for the Spartans in 2005 and 2006.

"Being inducted by your peers is going to be something special," Kessler said. "But I may be leaving at a good time. We have some good kids coming up through. It's set up nicely for whoever takes over."

Saikia said the school will begin a national search for its next wrestling coach in January.

-- Reach John Walk at jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.