OLATHE, Kan. — A coach at Olathe North High School has died after struggling with his health.
His family said Coach Josh Dirks succumbed to pneumonia on Thursday. Players found out Friday morning ahead of their regional playoff game against Olathe Northwest.
The team dominated on the field Friday night, winning against the Ravens 49-13.
His widow, Tiffany Dirks, and four children, Ella, Belle, Beau and Ivy Jo, were honored at the playoff game with a moment of silence. Players wore stickers on their helmets with his initials “JD.”
Dirks said her husband would have wanted the team to play hard and not let his loss get in the way, which is exactly what they did. Eagles by nature fly alone, but Olathe North flew together.
“Once an Eagle always an Eagle,” parent, alumni, and friend of Dirks, Mick Davis Jr. said.
Under these Friday Night Lights part of their flock was missing. Dirks was 39 when he lost his life.
“Yesterday the Olathe North Football family lost an outstanding coach and family man. Coach Josh Dirks will be greatly missed,” the announcer told the stadium.
The husband and father was also a teacher in the district. In college, he played for Pittsburg State and previously worked as an assistant coach for Washburn University.
“He made sure that these guys knew that if they wanted to get to the next level that he was going to help them,” Dirks said. “He’s made hundreds of phone calls to try and get guys recruited. Anytime a guy said he’d like to play at the next level, Josh was going to do what he could to get them there.”
His widow said being a dad was his greatest accomplishment in life and took pride in all of his children.
“He gave of himself like nobody else, so we will give of ourselves like no one else. He was a friend to people who didn’t have friends, so we will be friends. He never gave up on people, so we won’t give up either. He was a fighter so we will fight. He was successful in his life to the very end, so we will continue to love Jesus and hold onto each other and make daddy proud,” Dirks said.
Coach Dirks went to the hospital in late September hoping for antibiotics, but was hospitalized instead. Days later he was put on a ventilator. His medical bills continue to climb and the family set up a Gofundme to help.
Davis’ son, Jackson Davis, plays on the Eagles as a senior. He said he told his son to remember everything Dirks taught him about integrity, perseverance, and being a man.
“What did he instill in you before he left that day before he got sick?”
He said when the team woke up this morning they heard about Coach Dirks’ passing heading into their playoff game.
“When I talked to him this morning he said it hurts, but then when I talked to him, yeah it hurts, but what are you going to do about it? What did he instill in you when he was here? Do you tuck your tail in between your legs, and crawl in a ball and not come at all? Or do you do what an Eagle does and rise up?” Davis said.
The team decided to fly.
If you would like to help the Dirks family you can donate to their GoFundMe here. The funds will go toward medical bills and getting the Dirks family through this difficult time.