Coach K wraps up 30-year Cathedral career

Always remember to look for the blessings, Kesterson says


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For business teacher Ms. Jean Kesterson, her Irish flag made the trip from her classroom to her home after the campus was shut down on March 12.

Ava Amos, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Editor’s note: Retiring educators were asked either to write a column for this issue or to be interviewed for a feature story. Coach K opted for a story. Elsewhere in this issue, columns by campus ministry director Mrs. Charlene Witka and social studies teacher Mr. Lance Rhodes are printed.

Ms. Jean Kesterson, also known as Coach K, has decided to retire after 30 years of serving as the broadcast, business and technology teacher, along with being the former women’s head volleyball coach and physical education department chairperson.

Kesterson received her Bachelor of Science degree from Ball State in physical education with a minor in business education. She then received her Master of Science in kinesiology from Indiana University. She has taught here since 1989 and prior to that she taught and coached at Valparaiso University for four years and Bishop Chatard for three years.

Coach K has a list of awards and honors ranging from professional to academic recognition. She was inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2018 and the Indiana Hall of Fame in 2000. Kesterson ran youth volleyball clinics over the years and received the Distinguished Hoosier Award from Gov. Eric Holcomb in 2017 for her service to the volleyball community.

On two occasions, Jean Kesterson Day declarations were made. The first occurred on Aug. 23, 1989 by former Mayor Bill Hudnut for her work with the Scarborough Peace Games, a competition between athletes in Indianapolis and Canada. The second was on Sept. 24, 2017 from Mayor Joe Hogsett for her service to the Cathedral volleyball program.

Kesterson served 27 years as head coach of the women’s volleyball team, winning City, Sectional, Regional and State titles. In 2008 the Irish received the National Catholic High School Team of the Year award, but some may say her greatest win was in 2015, when the Irish were named the National champion and she was tabbed as the 2015 Coach of the Year.

But after all those accolades, Kesterson says it’s time to go.

“Thirty is a good year. I have other stuff I want to do. And looking at my age and all the kids I went to high school and college with, they’re retired (and) sitting around. And I (say) ‘no.’ I don’t have time, especially with Cathedral’s schedule, to go part-time because (I’ll) have to be (at the school) all the time. So I thought ‘why not?’” she said about retirement.

God has more callings for her. Kesterson said, “I have some friends opening doors for me. I can’t really say (more) at the present time. But there are two big doors opening that would give me some time to do what I want. (I can) be with my family, which is huge right now, and travel a little bit. I still want to have an impact, but use different vehicles that have that impact,” she said.

Kesterson also recalled one of her favorite Cathedral memories, which occurred after she had heart surgery. She said, “I couldn’t cook. I couldn’t even lift a gallon of milk because that would set me back. The volleyball family and some of the educators brought me food to my house. I think that family connection when I truly needed it, it was there.”

She added that from her time on the Hill, she’s learned that God has a plan for every member of the Irish family.

“The students that I have sitting in my room, God’s not finished with them. God’s not finished with me. I have seen some students go through some struggling times and come back and they’re in a happy place. I’ve had some kids that, I think, some people gave up on that are now doing incredible things in their community and in their families. I also learned that everyone has value. I know that’s kind of strange, but I don’t think everyone gets that nowadays that everyone has value.”

You have value and God’s not finished with you”

— Ms. Jean Kesterson

She said each individual’s value is one of the takeaways she would like students to get from her class. Kesterson said, “You have value and God’s not finished with you. Do not give up on yourself. God has plans. To be honest with you, as a coach we had our best practices after we had a loss and I wouldn’t have to say anything because the kids would pick up the energy and go ‘We need to get better.’”

“So that’s what I want kids to know. God has a plan, (so) put it in His hands. He’s going to take care of you. There are going to be challenges. It’s not going to be perfect. You’re going to have bumps and bruises along the way. I don’t know one person that’s a successful adult that hasn’t had some losses or some downtime. I hope that (students) go ‘I can do this’ and they believe in themselves.”

She said she will miss the students the most: interacting with them, seeing their body language in the classroom and looking in their eyes and asking them how they’re doing. “These kids give me life. They give me energy,” she said.

On the topic of quarantine, Kesterson said she hopes students learn the value of personal contact rather than the value of their phones. She said, “Being with people is the gift, and (technology) is just a vehicle to connect with them.” She added that she’s trying to look for the positives in everything, including students getting to spend more time with family.

Kesterson said, “There are blessings to look at in any scenario, so look for the blessings.”