This is a compilation of videos, pictures, articles, and links, of our hero, Coach Mike Konicki
Departed coach Konicki's legacy is of courage
By Richard Justice
MIKE KONICKI fought until the end. Cancer ravaged his body, but not his spirit. It sapped his energy, but couldn't touch his soul.
Maybe that was his final lesson for the hundreds of students and friends he touched through the years.
He loved his job in a way that only another high school football coach might really understand. He loved the kids and the games and the other coaches.
He loved his schools, too, most recently Klein Collins, where he was head football coach and athletics director. He loved those Friday nights when the lights were on and the grass trimmed and the fields lined just so, when the band was playing and there was a sense of expectation.
There was no place on earth he would rather have been.
Mike Konicki died Friday after a 17-month fight against colon cancer. He was just 44 and leaves behind a wife, two teenage sons and a legacy of courage and caring.
During those awful final months, he would sometimes leave his hospital bed to show up on the sideline for a Klein Collins game.
He'd have a chemotherapy pump attached and would have to excuse himself to go vomit. He was weakening by the day.
"He wanted the kids to know he cared," said Tim Schumacher, the head basketball coach at Klein Collins.
Never give up
When Klein Collins principal Randy Kirk visited Mike for the last time a few weeks ago, he was told to take a message back to school.
"I'm not giving up," Mike told him. "I'm not going to stop taking treatment. I'm going to fight this thing until the end."
He loved teaching, too. One of his former biology students, Christopher Welch, remembered: "He inspired me to work hard and apply myself in a time when I was uninterested in school and having problems in my home life."
That's the thing about these people we entrust with our kids. They work hard and care deeply, and sometimes it's only when we have to say goodbye to one of them do we realize how lucky we are to have people like this.
On Saturday, I heard from parents and co-workers and kids who had played for him through the years. They painted a picture of a man loyal to his players and his family, an educator in every sense of the word.
He was head coach and athletics director at Stafford before moving to Klein Collins. Before that, he was an assistant coach at Cy Falls for a season and at Klein High School for nine before that.
At Cy Falls, he ran the offseason program. Among his players were a bunch of freshmen who would be the core group of a team that would one day play for a state championship.
"I come in one Friday and he has all these CDs out, all this '70s music," Cy Falls coach Dave Raffield said. "He's got it blaring, and the kids are really into it. He said, 'Coach, it's Funky Friday.' "
Raffield's voice cracked Saturday afternoon when he told that story.
What's best for kids
"It was stupid and fun and the kids loved him for it," Raffield said. "He could get on a kid, but the kid knew he wanted what was best for him."
Mike was also a volunteer fireman. A former neighbor, Ryan Thomas, remembers Mike and his sons spending their evenings restoring and shining vintage firetrucks before a parade in Old Town Spring one year.
"They then rode in the parade," Thomas wrote in an e-mail. "His youngest son, Taylor, couldn't stop talking to me about it. I literally started crying when I logged on last night and saw the story of his passing.
"He was a caring person who was a great role model for the kids he coached. He was the kind of neighbor who gave me the code to his garage so I could borrow any of his tools when he wasn't home. A guy couldn't ask for a better neighbor and his two boys and wife couldn't ask for a better dad or husband."
A former player remembered that he would have players laughing one minute, pushing them to the limit the next.
"I especially remember him telling us a story about some movie about a tribal leader in the jungles somewhere who, when at war, fought by the motto 'never leave an enemy behind,' " wrote Keith Dzygun, a linebacker when Mike coached that position at Klein in the 1990s. "The point coach would make with this story was that you have to attack the other team on every play and every down with all of the intensity you have — if you ever let up you give the other team an edge.
"I haven't spoken with coach or seen him since graduation. But I'm positive you'll find out from others that he attacked the cancer just like an army of enemy warriors each and every day with the same intensity he brought to coaching, and the same intensity he tried to instill in his football teams."
An everlasting bond
That's how it is between our kids and these men and women who coach them. They're in one another's lives for a short time, but they leave lessons of caring and commitment that are carried through life. There's a bond that lasts forever.
Mike Konicki left extraordinary lessons in courage and grace because of the terrible disease that finally took his life.
He was lucky to be able to do the thing he loved, and hundreds of kids were even luckier to have known him.
If you see one of your kids' high school coaches this week, take a moment to thank them for all they do. Tell them you're doing it for Mike.
2008 Santa Bowl - Together we raised $10,000
Coach Mike Konicki is our hero. He is a hero to everyone who came in contact with him. His battle with cancer taught us that any difficulty in this world can be fought with grace and dignity and that giving up is never an option. He was a husband, a father, a coach, a teacher, and a firefighter. Coach was a true community servant dedicated to helping others. His life's message echoes in the hearts of all who knew him and still continues to impact us after his passing. In May of 2008, former Klein High School football players started discussing what they could do to show his family gratitude for having benefited from such an inspirational life. The result was an opportunity to follow in his footsteps by showing his family how much we care for them.
Here is our plan:
Since this is the first Christmas Coach will not physically be with us, we are having our annual 2008 Santa Bowl in his honor. We will update this site with more details as we receive them. In the meantime, you can read the history of the Santa Bowl on our History page. Though it may seem that watching out of shape Klein Alumni may not be very exciting, do not be surprised if you are thoroughly entertained. Please bring your family and friends out to watch the game, and donate to the Konicki family (online or at the game) if you are compelled to do so. We want to raise as much money as possible for DeLin Konicki and her two sons, and present it to them as an annual Christmas gift. DeLin would be free to use this gift for anything.
Please keep in mind that we are not an official charity or non-profit organization; however, we do have one mission: to pay honor to the life of Mike Konicki by honoring his family. Please know that the Konicki Family has never contacted us or asked for any type of support other than prayers. This initiative was born from a sense of thanksgiving that can be found in many hearts and minds of those who shared in the life of Mike Konicki.
There is still much to be accomplished during these last few weeks, and we need your help to make the event a huge success.
Here are some ways that you can donate money to this cause:
CHECK or CASH
DONATIONS FOR THE 2008 COACH KONICKI CHRISTMAS FUND HAS ENDED. THANK YOU FOR MAKING THIS SUCH A HUGE SUCCESS!
CHECK BACK SOON FOR MORE DONATION OPTIONS!
Find out more about Mike Konicki