By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We know the importance a coach can have on a player’s life. An entire town in west-central Minnesota is feeling the loss of a beloved football coach — Osakis High School’s Kyle Imdieke — whose impact was felt throughout the city.

Osakis, a town of about 1,700 just east of Alexandria, was where a student athlete returned to teach and coach, got married and was blessed with three children.

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Almost five years ago, Imdieke’s wife Dainy Imdieke was diagnosed and succumbed to pancreatic cancer, leaving a legacy behind.

“Dainy had a personality, smile and a laugh that just lit up the room,” sister-in-law Jessica Hartmann said.

Two weeks ago, he himself grew ill with an infection. Last week at his home, he did not wake up, leaving three boys without parents and a community in shock.

“When we were called into the auditorium Thursday morning and we were told that, my heart just sank, just complete shock because I had just talked to him two days prior,” Osakis basketball coach Matt Holscheur said.

No one knew exactly what to do or say, so they did what was natural to the family. They gathered at the football field.

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“It just kind of was an impromptu thing at the football field here, we turned on the lights and, pretty soon, there were 300, 400 people out in the parking lot,” football coach Bill Infangen said. “Everybody was just giving each other hugs and crying.”

They’ve spent the week consoling, rehearsing a funeral that happened Thursday at the football field. And now they are standing by the three boys, ages 15 through 22.

What they learned in the death of their mother is that this town was there, and they will continue to be there, because that’s just the way it works in Osakis.

“Dainy didn’t grow up here like Kyle did. But the way they embraced her and what they did for her, it was so moving, I get choked up just thinking about it,” brother Derek Abrahams said.

Kyle Imdieke had become their father, mother and coach, and set quite an example. The void is big, but they have many memories of a mom that showed them how to love, and a dad who held titles as teacher and coach. But at the end of his life, he had become so much more.

“They cherished every single minute of that, and you knew that. He was a light-hearted, humble, humble man,” Hartmann said. “His two proudest titles were husband and father, and he was so, so good at both of them. He just was. We truly all were better people because of Kyle.”

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Kyle Imdieke’s parents live in town and the boys’ aunts and uncles are helping. There was an autopsy and they are awaiting results.

Mike Max