Remembering Kevin Gerke

Athletic Director Kevin Gerke died yesterday having served as the athletic director and activities Director at Blue Valley Northwest.

Celia Harris
Athletic Director Kevin Gerke smiles as he watches a Northwest football game.

Jonny Isaacson and Ethan Knauth

Athletic Director Kevin Gerke died yesterday. He was 47 and is survived by his wife, Carmen, and three sons, Zach, Brett and Braden. Gerke served as the activities director at Northwest for the 2015-16 school year, before transitioning into the role as athletic director from the fall of 2016 up until his death.

As athletic director, Gerke oversaw three-straight 6A state championships for the boys basketball team as well as a multitude of 6A state team placements for the other Northwest sports. Coaching youth athletics prior to serving as an administrator at BVNW, Gerke told BVNWnews in a 2016 interview it was his dream to serve as athletic director.

“I’ve coached for a very long time, so I’m excited to get back into the athletic side of things,” Gerke said.

Prior to serving as an administrator at Northwest, Gerke spent eight years as the assistant principal in the Belton, Mo. School District, according to the BVNW homepage, as well as served as a middle school social studies teacher in both the Belton and Lebanon, Mo. school districts. Gerke held a 7-12 Social Studies Education degree and a Master’s degree, earning both from the University of Central Missouri. He earned his doctorate last year.

As for sports, Gerke began his coaching career at Lebanon high school, where he coached freshman basketball and started a varsity boys and girls soccer program, the BVNW homepage said. From there, Gerke moved to the Belton School District, where he served as the boys basketball coach for Belton high for nine years. After nine years away from athletics, Gerke became the athletic director at BVNW for the 2016-17 school year.

Serving as the head football coach for the past three seasons, Clint Rider worked closely with Gerke. Rider said Gerke was someone he knew he could always rely on when he needed someone to talk to.

“He was always a guy that if I needed something I could come talk to him. With the nature of our relationship, we spent a lot of time together and if I needed to vent or lay something out, he was always there to listen and be supportive,” Rider said.

As Gerke’s biggest hire, Rider was brought in to lead the varsity football team. Rider said he is forever grateful for the opportunity given to him by Gerke.

“I’m definitely grateful for the opportunity. It’s one of those things where he believes in you and the people that he hires and trusts them to do their best,” Rider said. “Him putting his faith in you means a lot.”

Going into the football team’s first substate game against Lawrence High School, the team had only won two games and was the lower seed. After losing a close game by failing a two-point conversion, Rider who was upset by the result was comforted by Gerke.

“After my first year, we had a really close game against Lawrence and we went for two at the end of the game and didn’t get it. I just remember being kind of upset about it in the parking lot and [Gerke] came over and just put his hand on my shoulder and said ‘Hey, the kids played hard and you guys did the best you could’,” Rider said. “Those were the types of things that stuck out to me that he was somebody who cared about you as an individual and wanted the best for everybody.”

Haley Shin, 2019 BVNW alumni, played four years of varsity sports, softball and basketball, and got to know Gerke well. They started working closely together after Gerke created a leadership council which promoted leadership in sports at BVNW.

“My last two years, he and I got close. He would call me into his office every once in a while and we would just talk about how I was, how he was and just sports in general,” Shin said. “One of the things he helped me with the most was how to be a better leader. He gave me a lot of advice on what my role was on either the softball or basketball team and he helped me be a better role model in general.”

Head coach of the girls varsity basketball team, Matt Shulman was hired when he was just 27 years old. Hired as the youngest head coach at Northwest with no head coaching experience, Shulman said Gerke became a mentor for him to grow as a coach.

“He was kind of a mentor, somebody who gave me a lot of advice throughout our two years together,” Shulman said. “He was the guy that gave me a shot, being the youngest coach you have to figure out a lot of things and being at a big school like this he really, especially my first year, helped me transition in.”

One thing both Rider and Shulman pointed out was how Gerke was always able to focus on what really mattered to him: his family.

“You could tell he was somebody who cared a lot about his wife and kids and everything like that,” Shulman said. “And he kept reminding me that when I get too busy or when I think I’m too busy, he kind of reminded me what was really important and so I think that was a huge piece, other than sports he was a great person to remind you what was really important.”

The story will be updated as more information is gathered.