The Grace College men's basketball team has been defined by one man over the last 40 seasons and that man is head coach Jim Kessler.
“Coach K” begins his 42nd season at the helm of the Lancers basketball program and is currently one of the most winningest active coaches in the nation with 770 victories. He was awarded with the highest honor the NAIA gives out in 2016 when he was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame (article).
Kessler led the Lancers to one of their most successful stretches in program history with a national tournament appearance in 11 consecutive seasons: five times at the NCCAA National Championships (2006-07, 2009-10, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17) and six times at the NAIA National Championships (2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2014-15). Overall, Grace has made nine appearances in the NAIA Nationals, including the 1992 squad, who finished 32-5 and won the NAIA Division II National Championship.
In recent years Kessler has directed Grace to storied heights, including: the program's first Crossroads League Tournament championship (2011-12), a memorable run to the NAIA national semifinals as an unranked team (2012-13), a charge to the national championship game of NCCAA Nationals (2013-14), a run to the "Sweet Sixteen" of NAIA Nationals (2014-15) and to a third-place finish at NCCAA Nationals (2015-16).
Kessler has enjoyed 18 20-win seasons and three 30-win seasons during his coaching career at Grace. He was inducted into Grace's inaugural Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008. He has also been inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame (2016), NCCAA Hall of Fame (1994) and has been both the NAIA Coach of the Year (1992) and NCCAA Coach of the Year (1983, 1992).
He was named the Crossroads League Coach of the Year in 2009 for taking Grace to back-to-back Elite Eight appearances in the NAIA Nationals, was the NCCAA Regional Coach of the Year in 2012 and recently was named the league's Coach of the Year in 2014-15.
During the summer of 2013, Kessler was given the distinguished honor of representing Grace at the USA Basketball level. Kessler served as a court coach for USA Basketball’s 2013 World University Games’ Training Camp, helping select the final roster for the US team. He was also invited to host a coaches' clinic at the 2015 NCAA Final Four.
It is the journey, not the destination, which keeps Kessler around the game. In his fourth decade, Kessler enjoys not only the practices, but the opportunity to see the impact Christ has on the lives of the players he coaches. It has been his mission over the past 40 years to help his players grow in their faith through mission trips, community service projects, in-season outreach opportunities and Lancer Basketball Camps.
Kessler has led the Lancers on multiple international mission trips over the years, including trips to the Philippines, Jamaica, Bahamas, Egypt, Germany, France and Kenya. He has made extensive contributions on Grace’s campus by establishing campus projects that have raised funds for the college library and for other equipment and programs aimed at enhancing the quality of life at Grace.
In the local community, Kessler has organized annual tournaments to benefit local organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Kosciusko County Cancer Care Fund.
For his contributions to the lives of youth in the Warsaw community, Kessler received the 2005 Pete Thorne Memorial Award. In 2006, he received the NABC Guardians of the Game National Award for Service.
Kessler is a 1970 graduate of Grace College where he had a four-year playing career with the Lancer men’s basketball team. He is married to Susanne and the couple has four daughters -- Kim, Sarah, Jenny, and Janelle, four sons-in-law, and 12 grandchildren. Kessler and his wife reside in Winona Lake, Ind.
Associate Head Coach
Scott Moore is set to begin his seventh season as a coach at Grace College.
Moore holds several responsibilities with the Lancers. He will be starting his seventh season assisting the men's basketball team and sixth season as the school's strength and conditioning coach. Additionally, he oversees the Gordon Recreation Center.
As Grace’s first strength and conditioning coach, Moore is responsible for working hand in hand with each of Grace’s 16 athletic teams.
“Our goal for the Grace Strength and Conditioning Program will be based around two main purposes: injury prevention and improving performance while glorifying God,” Moore said. “By incorporating knowledge about sport-specific training, our athletes can perform at their highest level using the gifts that God has given them.”
Moore graduated from Columbia City High School, where he played basketball and tennis. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Grace in 2008 and finished his Master’s degree in physical education from Ball State University.
He is a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise and is completing his strength and conditioning license through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. For the past four years Moore has been the head personal trainer at numerous facilities, specializing in performance training.
Moore played from 2004-08 on the Lancers’ basketball squad, ending his career No. 6 all-time in career assists. During his senior season, Moore’s Lancers finished 26-10 and made a run to the Elite Eight round of the NAIA National Championships.
His first year as an assistant coach for the Lancers’ basketball team in 2012-13 was a successful one. The Lancers advanced to the 2013 NAIA national semifinals – the second-longest run in the tournament in program history. In 2013-14 the Lancers advanced to the NCCAA Div. I national championship game. The Lancers reached the "Sweet Sixteen" round of the NAIA tournament in 2014-15 and finished third at the 2016 NCCAA National Championships.
For three years, Moore served as the head assistant coach at Mount Vernon Nazarene University under his brother, Matt Moore. During his short time at MVNU, Moore recruited two Top 40 players from Indiana, an All-State player from Michigan, as well as a number of Ohio All-State performers.
Moore helped develop a pair of 1,000-point scorers with the Cougars and was in charge of the offense and player development. During the 2010-11 campaign, MVNU ranked No. 6 in the NAIA for field goal percentage (48.4) and No. 12 for 3-point percentage (37.9).
After graduating from Grace, Moore decided to play professional basketball in Perth, Australia, for the Wanneroo Wolves of the State Basketball League. Alongside his twin brother Marcus, the Moore brothers led the Wolves to their best record in franchise history at the time. Scott ranked first in the league in steals and third in assists.
Outside of Australia, Moore has traveled and played basketball in numerous countries including China, New Zealand, Belize and Mexico.
Moore also experienced tremendous success as the head coach of Grace's women's tennis team for four years (2013-16). He climaxed in his final season, winning the 2016 Crossroads League Coach of the Year award after leading the Lady Lancers to an 11-5 record. That mark tied the mark for most wins in a season in program history.
Moore got married in the summer of 2013 to his wife Bridget.