Andy Kessinger and Courtney Ruppert will be Upper Arlington’s next girls soccer and girls track and field coaches, respectively, pending school board approval.

Kessinger replaces Chris Merrick, who went 50-39-20 overall and 15-11-8 in the OCC-Central Division in six seasons and led the Bears to a district championship in 2015. Kessinger, a 1988 DeSales graduate, was on the Stallions’ 1986 Class AA state championship team and played at Ohio Wesleyan from 1988-91 before playing professionally both in Germany and the U.S. with the Columbus Xoggz of the United States Indoor Soccer League and the National Professional Soccer League’s Dayton Dynamo.

“I have three daughters (and) one (Ellie) is a sophomore at UA who plays in the program. When I found out about the opening, having been a soccer player and a club coach, I figured this was a chance to pay it forward in terms of work ethic, structure and teaching the game to girls who want to learn,” Kessinger said. “I love being a part of their development in the game and leaving an imprint.”

Ruppert replaces Latisha Wilder, who had coached the girls track and field team since 2014. She also coached both the boys and girls cross country teams from 2013-17, replacing longtime coach Dale Hartney, and the girls team exclusively the past two seasons.

Ruppert, a 1998 graduate of Chillicothe Unioto, has coached track and field for five years at Hastings Middle School, where she also has coached cross country and volleyball.

“(The UA job) is a bucket-list job for me,” Ruppert said. “Freshman to senior, I’ve coached a lot of these kids. I’m looking forward to building a program between middle school and high school and I think I can bridge that gap.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave