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Dierks Crosses Finish Line as A.D.

Coach Michael Dierks keeping an eye on things on a cross country race day.

For the first time in more than a decade, Rockhurst now has a new leader of the athletic department. Michael Dierks, head athletic director for the past 10 years, announced his retirement from the position effective at the conclusion of first semester. Dierks says a lot of thought went into his decision to retire.

“After 29 years, it feels like I am ready to explore a new life that isn’t 100-percent focused on all that it takes to be the athletic director,” he said. “There really aren’t a lot of off-days in this role, and the grind can wear over time. While I want to see Rockhurst, and athletics in particular, be the best we can be, and more importantly serve as a formational tool for our student-athletes, I discerned with prayerful intent on whether I had the fire inside to be that leader.”

Dierks, a Hawklet alum, graduated in the class of 1991. After attending the University of Notre Dame, he returned to Rockhurst as a staff member in 1995. Dierks ended up at Rockhurst due to a recommendation from his father.

“My dad suggested that I meet with Fr. Pesci, then president, and he proposed a part-time job of working in the alumni office, teaching and coaching. That job evolved into me having to decide if I wanted to go full-time.”

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After his experience in his part time role, Dierks chose to commit to teaching and coaching at Rockhurst.

“I really enjoyed working with the high school students and runners so I decided to make it a full-time career. But, I never really thought it would last 29 years.”

Over his time at the Rock, Dierks had many roles. In addition to becoming the A.D., he served as a journalism teacher, Spanish teacher, track coach, cross country coach, Director of Alumni, Arts Department Chair, and Physical Education Department chair.

Since Dierks took over as Athletic Director in 2013, Rockhurst has enjoyed great athletic success, winning 20 state championships. Dierks also played a role in various facility improvements, including the updated weight room, construction of the Hawklets Center and the purchase of swimming’s Goppert RockPlex.

Dierks has enjoyed his time serving as his alma mater’s athletic director. He recognizes that he has had many great people to help him along the way

“[One of my favorite parts was] working with the committed and talented head coaches, their assistants and our administration to help Rockhurst thrive as a community committed to excellence and compassion,” he said.

Head football coach Kelly Donohoe appreciates all Dierks has done at Rockhurst.

“Coach Dierks has been an icon at this school for the past three decades,” Donohoe said. “I’m happy that now he has more time to do what he wants while still being a part of this community.”

Dierks also took pride in helping Hawklets on and off the field.

“[I enjoyed watching] our student-athletes grow from boys to young men physically, mentally and emotionally. The evolution is amazing and it comes full circle when the seniors live out the brotherhood with class and dignity.”

Dierks is also Rockhurst’s varsity cross country coach. Holding the position since 1997, Dierks has constructed a decorated coaching career. He has led the Hawklets to two state championships and three second place finishes during his tenure. In addition, the cross country Hawklets have qualified for the state meet in each of the past 17 seasons.

According to senior cross country runner Brady Brown, Dierks has played a vital role in his development.

“He is a great coach who really knows how to connect with his runners,” Brown said. “He knows how to get the best out of us everyday.”

Dierks plans to continue to serve as the varsity cross country coach for the foreseeable future.

“I am going to continue coaching as that is something that I still have a fire for and I want to still have some connection to a place that I have known since I was a small child,” he said.

Dierks will assist the transition by serving as Associate Athletic Director during second semester. Assistant varsity football coach and freshman basketball coach Tom Kruse will serve as interim athletic director. According to Dierks, the school will be in good hands under Kruse’s leadership.

“[Kruse] was a very successful athletic director at Raymore-Peculiar and will bring so many great assets to the role,” Dierks said.

Although Hawklet athletics has had great success during his time at Rockhurst, Dierks is still optimistic that the best is yet to come.

“I have faith that Rockhurst athletics will be even better in the future and have just been blessed to be a part of it these past 29 years,” he said.

 

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About the Contributor
Mitch Forbes, Staff Reporter
What’s up? I’m Mitch Forbes. I am a senior and this is my second year writing on the Prep News staff. I joined the staff last year to help improve my essays in my English classes. However, I learned that the whole process of writing a story was actually pretty fun. I enjoyed it so much last year that I chose to do it over again. Student journalism also looks good on college applications, which doesn’t hurt. I am also a part of the football and basketball teams here at Rockhurst. I am undecided on where I want to attend college, but I plan on studying either journalism or business wherever I go.
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