ed kershner

Oviedo Basketball Coach Ed Kershner Retires with Florida Record 901 Wins

May 9, 2017
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His mother was a girls basketball coach with keys to the gym at Montpelier High School in Indiana. His father was a referee.

Eddie Kershner, the oldest of three kids in a basketball brood, was a kid fully infected with Hoosier hoops hysteria.

His love for the game never waned and Ed Kershner never wanted to quit going to the gym. But on Wednesday, at age 76, Kershner announced he is retiring from coaching at Oviedo High School.

Kershner’s coaching career began in 1968 and spanned 48 seasons. The kid who hailed from a school so small that it no longer exists became a Hall of Famer in two states and the winningest coach in Florida high school boys basketball history with 901 victories.

“It’s been my life. I guess I’ve been living the dream for as long as I can remember,” he said.

ed kershnerKershner, who retired from teaching five years ago, waited to make the announcement until after Tuesday night’s Oviedo boys basketball banquet at Tuscawilla Country Club. That was the sendoff for a squad that went 21-8 with a district championship and a region runner-up finish to Wekiva.

“I wanted that to be about the kids, not about me,” he said. “They really put together a great effort. I wasn’t thinking about it being my last go-round during the season, I was thinking about trying to win the regional.”

Kershner concluded his 45-year run as a head coach with four consecutive district titles and three state tournament trips in his final six seasons. Oviedo was a state semifinalist in 2012 and 2015, and the Class 7A champion in 2014 – giving Kershner his second state title. The first came with a legendary 37-0 Kissimmee Osceola team of 1982-83 in his third season in Florida.

“I’m happy to go out on a high note,” Kershner said.

He is done with the daily grind but hardly sounds ready to slow down completely from a fastbreak lifestyle. Kershner is a founding father of the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches and said he plans to remain active in that organization and other coaching advisory committees. He was voted to the National High School Coaches Association’s board of directors in 2012.

Kershner is lined up to to do instructional clinics and other work with USA Basketball, the sport’s national governing body. He also plans to work with one of his former Oviedo assistants, Carlos Morales, in basketball camps and events that could take him to South America and the Caribbean.

“It’s another adventure,” Kershner said. “I’ve tried to be a giver, not a taker. This game has given me so much. I can plan my time now and do things on the national level and the state level. I’m blessed to have these opportunities.”

According to the National Federation of High School Associations record book, only 27 coaches in boys basketball history have reached 900 wins.

Kershner’s career record is 901-377, including 783 wins in Florida. He broke the state record in 2011, the same year he took a trip home to be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

The prolific Florida phase of Kershner’s coaching resume began with a 247-75 record in a decade at Kissimmee Osceola (1980-90). It ended at Oviedo with a 454-153 record over 21 seasons.

“Ed’s been a teacher, a mentor, a father figure to not only me but to so many students who have walked the halls of Oviedo High School,” said Lions athletic director Jakob Jarzynka. “He’s one of those pillars and one of the supports I’ve had, and that goes back to my days walking the hallways at this school.”

Kershner first found Florida when he was recruited to play for Florida Southern College in Lakeland. He was planning to play for the University of Miami when a cousin told him to check out FSC. The Moccasins coach, Tom Greene, said “Why go to Miami and have to sit for awhile when you can come here and play right now?”

Greene kept the promise and Kershner was a four-year starter and the Mocs MVP as a junior and senior. He met his wife, Joyce, at FSC. She has never missed a game, which might also be a record, and they’ll celebrate their 49th anniversary next month.

Kershner was drafted into the Army before he completed his degree. After two years of service, which including playing and coaching for armed services all-star teams, he returned to Indiana, finished his schooling at Taylor University, and began coaching.

After nine years coaching in his home state, the Kershners decided to move back to a fast-growing Central Florida.

Glenn Wilkes, the Hall of Fame Stetson University coach, encouraged Kershner to check on an opening at Osceola, which had plenty of potential but had not won a district championship since 1926.

Kershner landed the job and took the Kowboys to a section final (elite eight) in his second season. Osceola lost 50-47 to Ocala Vanguard, which won the state title. A year later, Osceola won the Class 3A state championship with the the dynamic duo of Frank Ford and Jimmy McCrimon leading the way in an era in which men like Kershner and Jim Halley of Vanguard where raising the bar for Florida prep basketball.

“Most of the coaches came from the North, from states where basketball was already big,” Kershner said. “The players were always here.”

Osceola’s 1983 state semifinal win was over Riveria Beach Suncoast, coached by Bob Traina, who finished his long coaching career as an assistant to Kershner for the past three years.

“I liken Ed to Tom Landry (the legendary former Dallas Cowboys coach), because he would always come up with creative variations on offense and defense,” Traina said. “I saw that first-hand the last three years. We were throwing opposing teams curveballs all the time.”

Kershner said he’ll remember the countless relationships long after the thrill of 901 victories fades.

“I’ve definitely seen the emergence of Florida high school basketball in my time, and I’m really proud of that,” he said.

ed kershner

Ed Kershner shared a moment with Oviedo girls volleyball coach Jen Darty when they both received coach of the year honors for the 2013-14 school year at the Orlando Sentinel Varsity Awards ceremony.

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