Shawnee’s Joe Kessler Continues his amazing run

by Marc Narducci | Jan 29, 2022
Shawnee’s Joe Kessler Continues his amazing run

Shawnee boys basketball coach Joe Kessler recently reached another milestone in his storied career and now in his 35th season, he shows no signs of slowing down.

Times change and Kessler has certainly kept up with everything. 

He has few peers as a tactician and has always developed a great rapport between him and his players. 

Earlier this month in a 67-45 win over Williamstown, Kessler earned his 700th career win. 

Many of those wins resulted in high profile championships. 

He has guided Shawnee to one Tournament of Champions title, six state championships, 19 conference titles.

When he began, Shawnee was a member of the Burlington County Liberty Division and that was considered among the best in South Jersey.

Shawnee currently competes in the Olympic Conference American Division, which is among, if not the best in South Jersey. 

In short, he has won a lot of games while playing the most competitive of schedules. 

Shawnee’s Tournament of Champions title came in 1992 and the Renegades are one of only two teams from the seven-county South Jersey area to win the title since the tournament’s inception in 1989. (Camden won the TOC in 2000). 

In addition, Shawnee reached the Tournament of Champions final three times, losing two close decisions. In 1995 the Renegades lost to St. Anthony, 47-44.

The next season in 1996 Shawnee again lost to St. Anthony in the final, 65-57 in overtime.

So many wins for Kessler, so many memories. 

“It feels good to get the 700th,” Kessler said, who has been a math teacher at Shawnee for more than four decades. “I have had some great players, great assistant coaches.”

One of his greatest traits as a coach has been the ability to adjust to his personnel. 

He has won with teams that could play a transition game and others that could excel in a half-court setting. 

Truth be told, most of his teams have been able to be versatile enough to win either way.

Shawnee has won as a favorite and an underdog.

This year the Renegades won’t be favored in South Jersey Group 4. Fellow American Division teams Lenape appears to be the favorite, while another American Division team Cherry Hill East, should also contend.

Yet Kessler believes that he can be competitive virtually any season and this one is no exception.

“There are a lot of great teams in Group 4 but I think we can be competitive with anybody,” said Kessler, who began the week 10-3. 

After all these years, one of the keys for Kessler is he has not lost any of his fire.

In fact his desire to coach, remains stronger than ever.

“I can’t wait to get to the court to practice,” he said. “I love the games and everything involved with it.”

He has created such a strong culture that many of his ex-players keep in contact. He is happy that they developed as players and more importantly as young men.

There are so many victories in coaches that have nothing to do with the won-loss record. Kessler has achieved plenty of the basketball victories and as many off the court.

And the totals keep adding up. 


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Author: Marc Narducci


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