‘Coach Cheese,’ beloved football coach at Olathe East, dies of COVID-19

Olathe East coach

Chris Burnett, 34, who also coached a women's football team in Kansas City, died Saturday from COVID-19. His family says he was not vaccinated. Above, Burnett in a photo coaching at Olathe East, posted on the Twitter feed of Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Dr. Kaleb Stoppel.

By Bek Shackelford-Nwanganga 

Members of the Olathe East High School community and the Kansas City Glory football team are mourning the death of their coach, Chris Burnett, 34, who died of COVID-19 on Saturday after two weeks in the hospital.

Burnett’s parents, Kim and Carolyn Burnett, told KMBC he was not vaccinated.

Affectionatly known as “Coach Cheese” by colleagues and team members, Burnett was father to four children and husband to Ashley Burnett.

At 8 a.m. Monday, Olathe East had an all-program meeting for the football team and students were encouraged to wear red in honor of Burnett.

“Our hearts and thoughts are with the Burnett family during this tough time,” school officials said in a statement. “We will have counselors available this week for any student or staff in need of additional support.”

Dr. Kaleb Stoppel, Olathe East’s assistant principal and athletic director, expressed his condolences on social media on Sunday.

The Kansas City Glory, a women’s football team where Burnett served as an offensive coach, also voiced condolences on social media Sunday.

“Yesterday, the Kansas City Glory lost a family member, Chris Burnett or Coach Cheese as all of us lovingly referred to him,” the team said. “He was a father, a husband, brother, and a son. His love for family and coaching influenced the lives of those around him. It’s always hard to lose family, especially one so young and as amazing as Coach Cheese. We continue with prayers and support for his family. The Kansas City Glory will always remember you.”

Along with the post, Kansas City Glory shared a GoFundMe fundraiser page asking followers to support the Burnett family. By Monday afternoon the fundraiser had amassed more than $1,800 towards a $15,000 goal.

Burnett’s father, Kim Burnett, also started a Facebook fundraiser page for his daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

KCUR 89.3 is Kansas City’s NPR affiliate public radio station. You can read and listen to more of their reporting at kcur.org.