Getting to know you – HCMS head Football Coach Jeff Kessans
Jeff Kessans, Health & P.E. Teacher at Hancock County High School and head HCMS Football Coach, has been teaching and coaching at HC Schools for 23 years.
He grew up in Tell City, and played football, baseball and was on the wrestling team at Tell City High School. His parents are Jane & the late Billy Joe Kessans.
Jeff attended University of Southern Indiana (USI) after graduating high school in 1993, and was basketball manager for the Screaming Eagles with Bruce Pearl for 2 years, while taking classes.
He earned his degree in Exercise Science (P.E.) & Health Education K-12, and started student teaching at Cannelton Schools. He later applied for a job in Hancock County.
“I grew up playing sports my whole life,” he said. “I really wanted to play college sports but I wasn’t big enough. With baseball, I went and walked-on at USI and it lasted about 3 weeks. I got a new coach and he didn’t take any walk-ons, so I was done there.
I love sports, and decided to start coaching. I got here and started coaching 3 sports right off the bat. I’ve been coaching sports in Hancock County since 2000 – baseball, football and basketball.”
Jeff is a full-time substitute bus driver as well, since 2021, and also drives the athletic buses to and from games, free of charge. He drives for GN Trucking & Excavating sometimes as well, when his friend, Gary Nugent, needs some help.
He and Gary built a warehouse together, and rent it out – End Zone Logistics, located at the corner of Hilldale and Poplar Grove Road. “He was one of my football players,” Jeff said. “Gary was a really, really good football player. My daughter and his daughter are in class together and they’re best friends. They’re in softball together.”
Jeff manages the Girls’ Youth Softball Program, T-Ball and up for girls 14 and under. He’s been coaching with them for many years and has been running the program for a couple of years now.
He was Athletic Director for 2 years at HCHS, and was AD at HCMS for a number of years as well. “I’m sort of a jack of all trades,” he said. “I referee basketball and umpire baseball for Hancock County when they need somebody.
For the Indiana High School Association, I referee varsity basketball. I drive sports bus trips for baseball and basketball teams when they need it, and I don’t charge them so they can save money on their budget. I’ve already got 7 trips I’m going to do with the baseball team.”
There wasn’t an opening in his area when he started at HCMS, and he was hired as a special education teacher. “I didn’t get the P.E. job but they really liked my interview,” he said, “that’s why Dale Gray asked me to teach special ed. My first 3 years here, I had to go back and get my Master’s Degree in Special Ed. I got that in 2004 at the Western Kentucky University – Owensboro campus.”
Jeff earned his Master’s in Learning and Behavior Disabilities K-12, and later earned his Rank I at University of the Cumberlands, with a Specialization in Elementary, Middle and Secondary Education.
“I taught special education for 14-15 years and I got turned down for several P.E. jobs but I finally got one,” he said. “I liked my special ed. job, that’s why I didn’t leave.”
He coached at HCMS in 2000-2016, then he coached varsity from 2016-2018 and went back to coaching at HCMS. “I’ve been jumping back and forth from the high school and middle school over and over,” he said. “I followed my special ed. kids from HCMS to HCHS. I’m the EBD (Emotional & Behavioral Disorder) person. If we’ve had a big group moving to the high school, I sort of followed with them because they need that stability with a teacher they know.”
Jeff has coached football at HCMS for 18 years. He coached basketball at HCMS for 6 years, and coached varsity basketball for 6 years, as an assistant. He was also head baseball coach, and assistant baseball coach for about 3 years.
“Since I’ve been here,” he said, “I’ve gotten integrated into the community, and I love it here. I couldn’t imagine my life going any different. I have lots of friends around here. I moved over to a new place and I feel like they accepted me and I fit in.”
He and his wife, Laura, met in February of 2005. She is the Hancock County Youth Service Center Coordinator serving HCMS & HCHS. “Laura was substitute teacher at HCHS at the time,” he said, “that’s how I met her. I got pretty lucky. Laura is a great wife and mom, and a great youth services coordinator. She’s good at it.”
Jeff & Laura married on October 7th, 2006, and will be celebrating their 17th Wedding Anniversary this year. They are blessed with two daughters, Rylann and Anna Bella. Rylann attends HCHS and Anna Bella attends HCMS. They are members at Hawesville Methodist Church.
“Laura’s parents, Debby & Mike Carroll, and her family, are great,” he said. “Our first house was in Kelly Heights, which was awesome. We liked living up there. Laura & I started building a house in 2017. When her grandma passed away, we bought the land that she lived on and we built our house there.”
In his spare time, Jeff said he has just been getting into playing golf and really likes it. He and Laura love to travel, and enjoy taking family vacations, such as to Gulf Shores, Alabama. “Whenever we retire we’re gonna be traveling people,” he said. “We love it. Laura is a big Disney World fan, and we’ve been 3 times.
For our 15th anniversary, I surprised her and took her to Epcot Center for a weekend.
We went to Jamaica, and that’s probably the only place we’ve been out of the country. Our plan is, when Rylann graduates, we told her we’d do whatever she wants to do. She has a real interest in Ireland, so we’re going to fly into Ireland and visit there first, then go to London and then up to Scotland.”
Jeff said they’re also planning a trip to Washington, D.C. “We’ve been waiting for our girls to get old enough,” he said. “I contacted Congressman Guthrie’s office and we’re gonna tour the Capitol and tour the White House.”
When you teach and coach, the relationships with the parents and their kids is a partnership. I want the kids to do as well as they can with sports, and I want them to do good in school. And to do that, the parents and the teachers need to be on the same page.
I feel like that’s why I’ve been successful. I have good relationships with the parents. If the parents, coaches and teachers are all on the same page, I think the kid succeeds a lot better. I like being here and I like supporting them. I think it’s a good place to raise your kids and I think our school district is one of the best.
I’m down to one sport again now. I might jump in and coach something else again. We won the championship 3 years in a row. We won 29 games in a row. We’ve been really, really good.
I can’t wait until next year starts. I’m already, two times a week, bringing the 6th and 7th graders over and we’re lifting weights and working out. I really love coaching football.”