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“We thank you coach… we love you:” UW-Parkside honors longtime wrestling coach Jim Koch killed following crash

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Jim Koch

KENOSHA -- A coach is remembered. The former UW-Parkside wrestling coach died Thursday, March 23rd, after he had been in the hospital for a week after being struck by a car.

Jim Koch had coached at UW-Parkside for 41 years. He was in St. Louis last week and out on a job when he was hit by a car. He's being remembered as a man with a passion for wrestling and a leader in the sport.

"We were like a family," said Matt Gille, former UW-Parkside wrestler.

Inside the UW-Parkside wrestling room, the walls are plastered with memories.

"He brought our team together," said Gille.

Photos show through the years the teammates changed but there always seemed to be one constant.

"Coach affected a lot of people," Gille said.

Matt Gille

Jim Koch served as head coach from 1970 to 2011 -- leading wrestlers to success and helping guide them through life.

"He was such a mentor to so many people," said Gille.

That's why those he touched are taking news of his death especially hard. Koch was struck by a car out on job while in Missouri for an NCAA wrestling tournament.

"As wrestlers, we are portrayed as tough, but it was definitely saddening to a lot of our teammates," said Gille.

Jim Koch

Gille is a former wrestler. He remembers his coach as a man dedicated to the sport and a pillar of the UW-Parkside program.

"Wrestling meant, it meant everything to him. He was the foundation of the program at Parkside," said Gille.

In the wrestling room, where a lot of blood, sweat and tears have been shed -- a small request is written on a dry erase board for a man whose legacy will live on: "Pray for Coach Koch."

"We thank you coach and we love you," said Gille. 

Coach Koch guided his wrestlers to 128 All-American honors, 80 academic honors and 14 individual national championships.

Information about his funeral has not yet been announced.

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