The Kansas City Chiefs have announced that the Kansas High School Coach of the Year Award has been renamed in memory of Eric Driskell, the reigning award recipient and former head coach at Blue Valley High School.
Driskell passed away from a sudden ruptured brain aneurysm in mid-February at the age of 43. The former Blue Valley High School coach was a three-time winner of the award (2011, 2014, 2016), tied with Olathe South's Gene Weir (2000-02) and Driskell's former mentor and Blue Valley coach Steve Rampy (1998, 2003, 2006).
"Earlier this year, the Kansas City community lost an outstanding football coach and a great man," Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. "While Coach Driskell may be recognized for what he did on the field, his character, leadership and unwavering dedication to his family and his community left a legacy that continues today. My family and the entire Chiefs organization are honored to commemorate his life and celebrate his service with the Chiefs Eric Driskell Kansas High School Coach of the Year Award."
"We are honored that the Kansas City Chiefs want to play such an incredible role in keeping Eric's legacy alive in the coaching community," Kari Driskell said, on behalf of the entire Driskell family. "This is something our children can share with their children and grandchildren; that their dad was such an influential coach that the Chiefs renamed an award in his honor, and that their daddy was indeed, a big deal."
In 2016, Driskell led the Tigers to an undefeated regular season, an Eastern Kansas League Championship and the No. 1 seed in the 6A west bracket. Blue Valley advanced to their second-consecutive Class 6A state title game this past postseason, falling to Derby High School, 17-14. It was the fifth time Blue Valley had been to a state championship game since Driskell took over in 2010. Since then, the Tigers have won two Class 5A championships (2010 and 2013).
An alumnus of Blue Valley High School, Driskell honed his skills from 1996-2009 as a coach under former Blue Valley coaching legend and current Pittsburg State Offensive Coordinator, Steve Rampy. In that time as an assistant under Rampy, Driskell was part of a Blue Valley team that won three state titles in six championship appearances. He succeeded Rampy in 2010 and immediately guided the Tigers to a 5A Kansas state title with an 11-2 record. Driskell also played for Rampy and was part of the 1991 Tiger squad that claimed the 5A Kansas Title. In addition to coaching the football team, Driskell served as the head coach of the boys' track and field teams at Blue Valley for 14 years.
Through the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association, he spearheaded the local 7-on-7 USA Football tournament at The University of Kansas Health System Training Complex. In January, he and the Chiefs Missouri High School Coach of the Year, Grain Valley's David Allie, attended the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida, as the Chiefs nominees for the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award.
Off the field and outside of Blue Valley High School, Driskell was a member of Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, and had a particular passion for contributing to the annual Della Lamb Community Services Toy Drive and helping students and youth contribute to the drive as well.
Driskell is survived by his wife, Kari, and two daughters, Rachel and Laurel. The Driskell family was recognized on-field during pregame with Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt for the official naming of the Chiefs Eric Driskell Kansas High School Coach of the Year Award.
The Chiefs Eric Driskell Kansas High School Coach of the Year Award will be voted on by the 10 Kansas Coach of the Week honorees during the 2017 season.
Fueled by Gatorade, the Kansas City Chiefs High School Coach of the Week/Coach of the Year program enters its 21st season in 2017. It is a joint initiative of the Kansas City Chiefs and the National Football League, designed to recognize and reward Kansas City area high school coaches on both sides of the state line who are shaping today's youth and tomorrow's leaders, with a focus on coaches who champion philosophies which advance and promote player health and safety. Both the Missouri and Kansas Coach of the Week honorees will earn a player health and safety grant from the Hunt Family Foundation for their school. In addition, Gatorade will supply each coach's winning school with a sideline kit that includes coolers, bottles and Gatorade products. The first Chiefs Coaches of the Week Fueled by Gatorade will be named on Tuesday, September 5.