"He touched so many lives": Longtime Northgate athletic trainer dies
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN and DOUG GORMAN
When the Northgate Vikings football team makes a trip to Ola High School in McDonough Friday night, there will be a big void when the team gets off the bus.
That's because a long-time member of the coaching staff and faculty will be missing.
The 65-year-old remained on the sidelines at athletic events through much of that time, returning to work following the stroke last fall. As of last week as the Vikings prepared to play North Clayton, Krach was right there with the team watching from his usual golf cart, with his heat index monitor close at hand.
His death leaves Coweta's high school community with a heavy heart. Krach also worked with athletic staffs at both Newnan and East Coweta High, where along with respective longtime trainers Lloyd Knott and James "Radar" Brantley, they became known as "The Three Amigos," as coined by those that knew the trio in the Georgia Athletic Trainers Association.
"Dale was just a great guy. I'm going to miss him and I know Northgate is too," said Brantley, who first met Krach in the mid-1980s when he worked with an ambulance service. "He may be gone, but I'm sure he'll be watching over them."
Krach is survived by his wife, Donna R. Davis Krach and children Joshua, Nathan and Amy. A funeral service will be held Friday at 11 a.m., prior to Northgate's football game at McKoon Funeral Home. Visitation is scheduled for Thursday from 5-8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the Dale Krach Scholarship Fund at any BB&T branch locally.
A former football and baseball player at West Virginia, Krach had previously been a head trainer for the ice hockey team at Penn State, where he earned a doctorate in sports medicine before the Pennsylvania native relocated with his family to Georgia. He became an athletic trauma specialist at Papp Clinic and Georgia Rehabilitation Center while also helping Brantley and Knott at respective high schools.
"I knew him back when he worked for Dr. Jack Powell," said Knott, who first met Krach 29 years ago. "Even back then when he was first hired at East Coweta, I remember him going to eat with me, Jack and Dale at Newnan Country Club and Jack Powell envisioned what you see now as The Summit complex."
Knott helped write a letter of recommendation when the construction of Coweta's third high school was being completed, with Krach eventually landing the position of Northgate's first and only athletic trainer while also handling in-school suspension.
"We'd talk about how we could get more money to buy what we needed, how the student trainers coming at your place, how's the athletic training class going at yours," Knott said. "He was real proud of his student trainers that covered when he had that stroke last year."
The last 14 years, Krach made an impact on the athletes at Northgate, some well beyond their high school years. Some, like, head wrestling and assistant football coach Adrian Anderson have been together since that first year in 1998.
"If you want to live your life to the fullest, and to do what you love, he is your example," Anderson said. "He loved Northgate. We were like his family."
Despite suffering a stroke last year, he was back at the school and back in his familiar golf cart at the school's spring home games, ready to treat athletes on either side of the field.
"I think just being able to come to work kept him going," Anderson said. "He just loved being a trainer."
"He took care of the football players and paid close attention to each one of them," recalled East Coweta football assistant Ron Beaucham, Northgate's first head football coach. "To have someone like Dale around was invaluable to us as a program. Each one of the trainers in this county does a tremendous job."
Football, however, wasn't the only sport Krach was on call for. Athletic training was a 24-7 endeavor for Krach throughout the school year and at times the summer as well.
"No matter where I have been, I have gotten closer to the trainers than I have with some of the coaches," said current Northgate head football coach Tommy Walburn. "We have to keep up-to-date with everything that is going on. He was a good sounding board for what is going on. I think we understood each other. We had a really good working relationship."
Boys basketball coach and assistant AD Mack Cain and Anderson both spent the day returning phone calls from former Northgate athletes who were just learning of Krach's death.
"He touched so many lives and he will continue to touch lives," Cain said.
Both current and former Northgate athletes took to Twitter to express their gratitude and loss, including some who have moved on to either the college ranks or the professional level.
"He loved being a trainer and he loved kids," Anderson said.
Anderson's step-daughter Kimberly Milner was one of Krach's first student trainers and is flying in from California to attend Friday's funeral.
"That's the type of impact he has had on people," Anderson said.
Anderson admits it was hard to watch Krach go through some of his battles with his own health in recent months. He was absent from the sidelines during Friday's football victory over North Clayton. Others were stunned by the news of his passing since he had been working at the school through his final days.
"It was hard for his friends to watch him at the end," Anderson said. "He was the type of guy who thought he could do this until the very end. He is just a great example for the kids to follow."
Longtime Lady Vikings head basketball and volleyball coach Matt Trucks says he will always remember his friendship with Krach.
"He was always concerned with how you were doing and how the team was doing," Trucks said. "I think that is very rare today."
Krach a native of Doylestown, Penn, chose athletic training after serving in the military.
"He is just a special guy," Anderson said. "You are talking about a guy who served his country, and then came back and got into training. He just loved being a trainer."
No wasn't in Krach's vocabulary. When the school first opened, coaches were expected to jump in and help however they were needed, so in addition to his duties as a trainer, he also coached some softball and basketball.
"When we first got here, everybody had to pitch in and help," Anderson said. "He was the first to do whatever you needed. That first year, some of us were coaching two sports in the same season, but he would always come and help out.
Assistant football coach Marcellous Johnson came to Northgate High in 1999 and says Krach befriended him from the beginning.
"He was just a nice easy going guy," Johnson said.
Cain says getting through the week won't be easy.
"It's just a different feeling," he said. "He meant a lot to our school, and we are going to miss him. It is going to get better, but it is tough right now."
Both Anderson and Cain pointed to Krach's dry sense of humor.
"He was pretty good about getting a zinger in on you," Anderson said.
Cain says it's touching to see just how big of an impact Krach continues to have on those former athletes who no longer walk the halls at Northgate.
"I think it takes kids awhile to realize how important a person was in their lives," Cain said. "Once they are out of school, they look back and see it. Once they get out, then they realize how much he did for this school."
Walburn, who is in his third season as head football coach at Northgate, says Krach always worked hard to get players healthy and ready to return to the field.
"He sort of took it personally if a kid couldn't play," Walburn said. "He just did his best to take care of our athletes."
The football team is dedicating the rest of the season to Krach and plans to put a decal on the helmet with his initials. T-shirts for next week's Homecoming game will also include a tribute to the school's late athletic trainer, known throughout school as "Coach Krach."
"He wouldn't have wanted a lot of fanfare," Walburn said. "That was just the way he was."
Remembering Dale Krach
“If you want to live your life to the fullest, and to do what you love, he is your example. He loved Northgate. We were like his family.” — Northgate wrestling, football coach Adrian Anderson.
“Dale was just a great guy. I’m going to miss him and I know Northgate is too. He may be gone, but I’m sure he’ll be watching over them.” — Longtime Newnan High athletic director James “Radar” Brantley
“I think it takes kids awhile to realize how important a person was in their lives. Once they are out of school, they look back and see it. Once they get out, then they realize how much he did for this school.” — Northgate Assistant Athletic Director and head boys basketball coach Mack Cain.
“No matter where I have been, I have gotten closer to the trainers than I have with some of the coaches. We have to keep up to date with everything that is going on. He was a good sounding board for what is going on. I think we understood each other. We had a really good working relationship.” — Northgate head football coach Tommy Walburn
“RIP Coach Krach. You meant so much to the athletes and the students at Northgate. Thank you for everything. You were the man!” — Kansas City Royals pitcher and Northgate alum Will Smith on Twitter. (@White_Willie31)
“My hearts with the Krach family! Going to miss him. He was such a great man, did so much for me at ng! #myfavathletictrainer” — Tennis pro and Northgate alum Natalie Pluskota. (@nataliepluskota)
RIP Coach Krach. Your family at Northgate will miss you so much. Us Vikings will NEVER forget what you have done for our school. — @BaileyPearson