Humble. Giving. Selfless.
Those are the words Osakis boys basketball coach Matt Hoelscher used to describe his friend, assistant coach and co-worker Kyle Imdieke on Monday morning.
Hoelscher and many more in the Osakis community are working through the grieving process and shock that has come with losing Imdieke so early in his life. Imdieke died unexpectedly at his home in Osakis on May 6 at the age of 45. The cause of death has not been released.
A memorial service for Imdieke will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 13, on the Silverstreaks’ football field at the LeRoy Mackove Athletic Complex. A visitation will take place from 4-8 p.m. Wednesday, May 12, at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Osakis.
“He’s one of the most genuine individuals I ever met,” Hoelscher said. “(Sunday) night, I was going through my text log that I’ve had with him for the last three and a half, four years. He was always asking me about my family. His classroom was right across from mine, so when he knew we had an AAU Tournament, he always wanted to know how it went; how did my daughter do?”
A piece of Osakis
Imdieke graduated from Osakis High School in 1993 and completed a teaching degree through Bemidji State University.
He worked as a special education teacher at Osakis Public Schools and as an assistant coach in boys basketball, along with being the football team’s assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. That’s in addition to helping coach sports down into the elementary levels too.
Athletics were a big part of Imdieke's life growing up, and his involvement in them was taken to another level through his three boys -- Logan Wolf, and Luke and Drew Imdieke. Logan and Luke are recent graduates from Osakis, and Drew is a freshman in high school.
“He was a great dad. He was so passionate about their upbringing and their life,” Osakis varsity football coach Bill Infanger said.
Kyle, his children and their friends and family endured the heartbreak of losing his wife, Dayni, in 2016. Dayni died at the age of 42 after a five-year battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer.
It was during Dayni’s sickness that Hoelscher really got to know Kyle well.
“When his wife passed away, I was completely amazed at the role he took on,” Hoelscher said. “It was all about his kids and making sure they were able to experience the stuff that they needed to experience...I know how important my wife is to our family and all she does. I couldn’t imagine what I would do without her around. To have Kyle do that, I was just truly impressed and had a lot of respect for what he did for his kids after his wife passed away.”
Osakis Public School announced through its Facebook page on the morning of May 6 that grief counseling would be available for students and staff through the days to come. Hoelscher said there is a great support group among Imdieke's family who live in the area, and there are many others who want to be a part of that support going forward.
“That’s something we’ve talked about as coaches and staff,” Hoelscher said. "Our community does a really nice job of rallying around in times of crisis. We got together when Dayni passed away and when others have lost family members. We’ll do the same here for Drew and Luke and Logan in any way we can...we definitely have to band together to help those kids and their family get through this."
Selfless in and out of sports
Having Imdieke on a coaching staff was like having a second head coach, Hoelscher and Infanger said.
Both spent countless hours over the years texting and talking about game plans with Imdieke knowing they could trust his input.
“He brought a very calm demeanor to the group,” Hoelscher said. “We had instances where if I got upset, Kyle was the one to come in and pick up the pieces with these kids.”
All the long hours, the film study, and trying to figure out ways to solve opposing teams -- Imdieke was eager to do that.
“The biggest thing I would say is how passionate Kyle was for coaching and loving the game and wanting to be involved,” Infanger said. “I think a lot of that had to do with his boys being involved too, but he watched film and studied away from practice just like a head coach.”
Osakis’ Lee VanNyhuis saw that willingness and selflessness firsthand as he worked alongside Imdieke in recent years with the junior varsity athletes in the boys basketball program.
The two sat side-by-side on the bench and worked most practices together, but VanNyhuis also has a daughter, Mara, who was a starter for the Osakis girls basketball team this past winter.
Before the season, VanNyhuis asked Imdieke if he would be willing to take on added duties to free up more time for VanNyhuis to see Mara play.
“He wanted me to go watch her. He knew how important family was,” VanNyhuis said. “He was one of the most unselfish people you could be around.”
VanNyhuis experienced that again this past year as he and his family grieved the death of his father, John VanNyhuis, on Feb. 4, 2021, at the age of 69.
“Before that, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer,” VanNyhuis said of his dad. “I didn’t ask him to, but one day after school, (Kyle) came in and spent a lot of time talking with me about what it was like for him and his wife going through that process. I asked him for advice on that. He was really supportive of me then. When my dad passed away, he was there for me for that part, too. He was willing to listen and gave really good advice as far as dealing with grief.”
Now the Osakis community will try to offer that same support for those closest to Imdieke as they meet to remember him back on the Osakis football field this Thursday.
“So much of his blood, sweat and tears were put into that football field with his boys going through the program,” Infanger said. “Even his dreams for the future. I just know from being his friend and coaching with him how much he was looking forward to coaching Drew and Drew’s classmates and the teams we have coming up. To have (the memorial service at the football field), it seems really fitting to me.”