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Former OHS players honor Kershner

Posted on Friday, September 22, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Over 20 former Osceola High basketball players turned out to honor their Coach, Ed Kershner, with a surprise retirement party Saturday. Kershner, 76, (sixth from right) recently stepped down from Oviedo High as Florida’s all-time winningest boys basketball coach with 901 victories.

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer
Ed Kershner, who led Osceola High School to its first state basketball championship in 1983, was a head coach for almost half a century before retiring in May as Florida’s all-time winningest coach.
Only 10 years (1980-90) of that illustrious career were spent at OHS, but it was long enough to leave a lasting mark on those who played and coached for him in Kissimmee.
That showed Saturday when some of those “Kershner era” players arranged a surprise reunion and retirement party for their coach at Sidelines Sports Bar in St Cloud.
About two-dozen former players, some flying in from as far as Texas and Seattle, joined Kershner in celebrated what he’d done — tallying 901 career coaching wins overall, 783 in Florida and 247 at Osceola — but, more importantly, what he’d done for them.
“I was totally surprised, and I’m humbled,” Kershner said. “People talk about state championships and all the wins, and those are great, but the best thing about a career like I had is the fellowship and friendship that still exists among all the players.”
Steve Mason, now a guidance counselor at OHS, coached against his mentor when Osceola played Kersnher’s Oviedo tem in the Great Florida Shootout.
“What a thrill,” Mason said. “Ed got me into coaching from the beginning. He’s always been so helpful, so personable. He and Nate (Alexander, current OHS coach) talked before they played for state (and won in February).
“He’s so good for the coaching community, and it was so neat and really says something that so many guys came out who haven’t seen him since they graduated.”
Mason and Rishard Brown, Class of ’88 who played at Sam Houston State before becoming successful in business in South Florida, said Saturday’s highlight was hearing old stories of practices and games from Kershner’s point of view.
“Ed was our mentor,” Brown said. “In 10 years here, 33 of his guys played in college. I don’t know of anybody who went on to play in college before he got here.
“I met Ed in 7th grade, when I lived at the end of a dirt road and college hadn’t crossed my mind.”
Brown said that Kershner, even at age 76, is still “always coaching and motivating.”
“We talked about coming back and keeping this going,” he said.
Oviedo won the 2014 Class 7A state championship.