KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Olathe North High School assistant football coach Josh Dirks passed away Thursday after a long battle with illness.
The team announced his death Friday afternoon.
"He was an outstanding coach, a family man that will be missed greatly," a tweet from the team said. "Our sincerest condolences to his family and please keep the Olathe North Football team and community in your prayers."
Dirks coached the team's offensive line and worked as an English teacher in the district's HOPE and Stride program.
The program provides alternative education to students in fifth through 12th grade on long-term suspension or who have been expelled from the district.
"He could reach the kids that other people couldn't," said Tiffany Dirks, Josh's wife.
Dirks played college football at Pittsburg State University and he and Tiffany were married at the football field at the university.
Josh walked down the aisle to "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns and Roses.
"He was my best friend," Tiffany, who also teaches at Olathe North, said. "No one was more important to Josh than his wife and kids."
The couple has four children, three girls and one boy.
"Josh lived every day to serve Jesus and to love his family," Tiffany said. "He took care of them every day."
The Olathe North Quarterback Club posted on Facebook about the news of Dirks with a statement from the school's Assistant Principal, Athletic Director Josh Price.
"Our coaching staff pulled the football team in this morning for a team meeting and shared the information with our boys. As we wrapped up the team meeting, both Mr. Herman and Mrs. Milke spoke with the boys about seeking assistance from counselors in the office if needed," the post said. "This has been a difficult journey for the Dirks’ family, our athletes and our coaching staff and we will all need to lean on one another through the coming days."
Olathe North, 7-2, is scheduled to take on the Olathe Northwest High School football team in the Kansas 6A State Football Championship regional round.
There will be a moment of silence to start the game and the players will wear "JD" stickers on their helmets, according to Olathe Public Schools officials.
Dirks also is an organ donor and the family is waiting on a match for his heart.
"They will be getting the heart of a gorilla," Tiffany said.
The family has set up a GoFundMe to assist in paying for medical expenses.