MINNEAPOLIS -- A gymnasium packed with people stood in silence Tuesday night and paid tribute to a mentor and inspiration to the town and Minneapolis schools.
Jeff Giles, head wrestling and football coach, died earlier that day at a Wichita hospital, and the Minneapolis Lions played their basketball games with him in mind, said Larry Combs, superintendent of schools.
"He's a tremendous coach and friend. Everybody has such deep respect for him and his family," Combs said.
Pastors were at the junior-senior high school Wednesday morning to help students, faculty and staff cope with the loss.
Giles, 50, collapsed Saturday at a wrestling event in Phillipsburg. He was flown to a Wichita hospital, Combs said. Giles died Tuesday.
Combs wouldn't speculate on what caused the coach's death.
"We got the call early (Tuesday) afternoon that Coach Giles had died," Combs said.
Giles spent his entire 26-year career in the Minneapolis school system, including 16 years as a physical education teacher at the Delphos attendance center. That school was closed in 2003.
He was the Lions' head wrestling and football coach and an assistant coach on the track team. He taught physical education and was involved in a youth wrestling program.
"He painted most of the houses in the community during the summer," Combs said.
Giles and his wife, Dina, have three daughters -- Emma, Lucy and Caroline. Lucy, a senior, plays on the basketball team but didn't suit up for the Tuesday night home game against Ellsworth, Combs said.
After meeting with the basketball players, he said, members of both teams decided Coach Giles would want them to play the game. The girls' team won at the buzzer, Combs said.
The moment of silence occurred between the two varsity games, he said.
"All of the kids in this building are connected to (Giles). He touched a tremendous amount of lives," Combs said. "Even though I'm 14 years older, I learned from him and he was a friend. They broke the mold when they made him."
A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at First Covenant Church, 2625 E. Magnolia. A complete obituary is on Page A4 in today's Journal.
The wrestling team opted not to compete in any events this week, Combs said, but will return to action in the regional tournament beginning Feb. 21 in Hoisington.
"They have great assistant wrestling coaches," Combs said. "They are forging ahead."
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