Blue Valley community pulls together to support football coach in ICU revered as a role model

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Blue Valley High School students, alumni and parents spent Monday grieving and praying together, after learning a beloved coach is in intensive care.

Eric Driskell is on life support after he suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm late Sunday. As of Monday night, he remained in the ICU at Research Medical Center in South Kansas City.

Driskell is a BVHS track and football coach, who also teaches weightlifting and physical education.

BVHS students held a vigil during school hours on the football field, then later gathered at the Church of the Resurrection alongside classmates and parents. Inside the worship hall, they lit candles, shed tears and prayed for comfort in a time of confusion and pain.

“[We are at] a loss of words,” said Kristen Daschke, a BVHS alum who had Driskell as a track coach. “We’re all still in shock.”

“He was a great coach,” said BVHS junior Henry Stang, a former football player under Driskell. “Everybody looked up to him. He was a very welcoming person. It’s just really hard to hear about this news.”

Henry said the entire student body has heavy hearts, as they prepare for the worst.

“I wouldn’t have ever thought that this would ever happen,” he said, “and it’s just going to be a tough time, next season, next year, without him.”

Driskell’s wife, Kari, took to Facebook post to say, “he needs a miracle.”

“Just crazy,” said freshman football player Tyler Warrell. “Everybody’s just very emotional about it and teary and we all are sad.”

Driskell’s students and players said they are now leaning on each other for support, as they struggle to understand how this could happen to someone so special.

“He didn’t even have to coach you for him to impact you,” Henry said. “Every day, he was just a very nice person.”

Meanwhile parents like Susan Daniels – whose son, Ryan, is a senior football player – try to offer support to their kids.

“I was up at the prayer vigil this morning,” Daniels said, “and to watch these young men grieve over the loss of someone so important, excuse me, to them, is hard to watch…”

Driskell’s impact on athletics is undeniable. He’s a BVHS alum who won a state championship as a player in 1991.

He guided the Tigers to five state championship games in his seven seasons as head coach. Of the seven, he won two state titles and was runner-up three times. He lost in the championship game for the past two years.

“He was very persistent,” Daschke said, “at ‘We’re going to get this done! We’re going to get the job done because we’re fighting Tiger spirit!’”

But many believe it’s what Driskell did off the field that matters most.

“He’s such a great role model for them,” Daniels said, “and he pushes them to do their best but do their best to be a good person and a great young man.”

Driskell was chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs last fall as the Kansas Coach of the Year.

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