Lee Kestler Sr. was talking about his fine tenure as the boys soccer coach at Liberty High when he closed out the conversation with this remark: "It was 13 years of fun in the sun with some good kids."
It was vintage Kestler, who recently stepped down because there weren't enough hours in the day for him to keep up with coaching and his position as a safety and health officer at the Department of Defense.
"It was a question mark the last three years because of work and the impact of time. It was very tough. I thought about it for three days at work, wondering if I could make it work, but I couldn't find an answer," he said. "If I can't give the kids what I expect from them, it's time to find someone else for the job."
Kestler first began as an assistant under Fran McCullin in 1982 before taking over in 1984. He finished with a 90-62-7 career mark as head coach, with nine region playoff appearances, six county titles (including co-championship honors twice with Westminster), six conference titles (two Tri-State and four Central Maryland Conference) and one region title.
"He loved coaching soccer and did a heck of a job down there. He'll be missed," said former North Carroll coach Ed Powelson, who stepped down last year after coaching 34 years. "The first few years he was down there, we were still pretty good and able to beat them. But once he took hold down there he did the job and they beat us most of the time the last few years. When you played them, you always knew you were in for a dogfight and nothing came easy. He was a competitor, and that's how his teams were."
Just as impressive was Kestler's ability to develop the players that came his way.
"The concentration was to improve each player on an individual basis and work it in with the team chemistry," Kestler said. "Back in the beginning, it was striker, midfielder, defender -- whatever you played, you played. Now, you have to be able to play all positions, and that's where improving the individual skills and developing the players comes in."
Kestler gave a lot of credit for Liberty's success to the five assistant coaches who worked alongside him, including current JV coach Ed DeVincent, who applied for the varsity position and appears to be the likely choice to replace him.
Pub Date: 5/12/96