Royals honor Olathe West assistant baseball coach who died from COVID-19

Posted at 5:33 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-12 21:31:45-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An Olathe West staff member and coach who died Thursday from complications related to COVID-19 was honored Saturday by the Kansas City Royals.

The team held a moment of silence for Derek Leppert ahead of its match up against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The moment of silence was streamed online as a part of the Royals Countdown Show at and can be found on the Royals Facebook page.

Principal Jay Novacek announced Leppert’s death in a post on Twitter.

Leppert, who was chosen as the 2019 American Baseball Coaches Association Assistant High School Coach of the Year, had served as the Owls’ associate head coach for all three seasons since the building opened.

“As you know, Coach Lepp was a larger than life figure in our community,” Novacek said via Twitter. “Whether it was coaching his life passion of baseball, giving students trouble for being late in the attendance office, arguing with moms for calling students out for lunch, or working basketball games at the pass gate — Lepp’s personality and booming East Coast voice will be sorely missed at Olathe West.”

On his personal Twitter account, Leppert documented part of his coronavirus battle.

He announced less than three weeks ago that he had been hospitalized with COVID-19 complications, which included a loss of taste and breathing issues on Aug. 27 and leg paralysis by Aug. 30.

Leppert tweeted Wednesday evening that he had “settled into my long term care room” and vowed to “be back stronger.”

Instead, Novacek said “Coach Lepp” — as he was affectionately known by friends, colleagues and students — “passed away suddenly” on Thursday.

Leppert had not been inside Olathe West since last March, long before being diagnosed with COVID-19, according to Novacek.

“I would ask that you keep Lepp’s family, the baseball coaches, our secretaries and baseball players in your thoughts and prayers,” Novacek said on Twitter.

Leppert previously served as an assistant coach under Rick Sabath at Blue Valley Southwest from 2013 to 2017.

He followed Sabath to Olathe West when the school opened in 2017.

Leppert also previously served as an assistant baseball coach at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe and as head coach at Friends University in Wichita.

In addition to his duties for the Olathe West baseball team, Leppert served as an attendance clerk at the school.