When Bluefield College alumnus David Kessler says that his time at BC in the 1980s paved the way for his future success, he’s not stretching the truth.
A native of Hurricane, West Virginia, Kessler was a standout athlete during his years at Hurricane High School where he played football his freshman year and four seasons on the boys’ basketball team. In basketball, he was named All-Putnam County, All-Metro West, and was All-State Honorable Mention.
His dream of playing basketball at the collegiate level was first fulfilled at Ohio Valley College in Vienna, West Virginia, where he played from 1979 to 1981. Since at that time Ohio Valley was just a two-year college, Kessler said he began looking for a new place to finish his academic and athletic career.
“On my visit to Bluefield, I was immediately very comfortable with everything about Bluefield College,” said Kessler, “from Coach [Darrell] Becker and the basketball program, the administration and faculty, to the beautiful campus setting. It really just felt right and turned out to be a great fit.”
Kessler played both basketball and baseball for BC from 1982 to 1984. Still needing a year of study to earn his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education, but having exhausted his playing eligibility, he was asked to join the basketball staff as an assistant coach – an invitation he said he gladly accepted. As a member of the coaching staff under head coach Mark Blevins, Kessler helped lead the Rams to one of the most successful campaigns in program history with a runner-up finish in the National Little College Athletic Association National Tournament.
That coaching experience, he said, served as a stepping stone to what has become a nearly three-decade career in coaching. After additional study in teacher education at Georgia State University and earning a master’s degree in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia (CA) University-Irvine, Kessler became an associate head coach at South Gwinnett High School in Georgia, where he helped lead the team to the 2004 Georgia State 5-A Championship. He continued his high school coaching career at North Atlanta High School, Prince Avenue Christian School, Schley County High School, and finally Brandon Hall School, where he led that team to its first-ever state tournament appearance.
Today, Kessler is most recognized as the owner, founder and head coach of the Atlanta Show, a minor league professional basketball team, one of 21 teams in the North American Basketball League (NABL). In its first season ever in 2016 with Kessler serving as president and head coach, the Show completed a perfect 17-0 record en route to winning the NABL championship. As a result, Kessler was named NABL Coach of the Year.
“I feel like Bluefield College laid the foundation for and has played a huge role in the success I have experienced to this point in my life,” said Kessler, who was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. “All the successes I’ve had over the past 30 years are the result of the foundation I received right here at Bluefield.”
In addition to winning championships, Kessler said the mission of the Atlanta Show is to provide role models and developmental opportunities for the youth of Greater Atlanta. Players and staff host clinics and other activities for children in economically disadvantaged schools. They also provide free game tickets to school-age children for each of the team’s home games.
“My Bluefield experience was a true blessing in so many ways,” said Kessler, who also met his wife to be, Jaynee Yost (’85), at Bluefield College. “It not only allowed me to get a great college education and continue my basketball playing career beyond high school, but it also launched my coaching career. It gave me an opportunity to be around and learn from outstanding people on a daily basis and develop many lifelong relationships.”