Rick Giesel had never played soccer himself. Several years ago he had no real understanding of the game, but he knew what it meant to be a dad.
So he signed up to coach daughter Heath and son Henry’s recreation teams at Carmel Dads’ Club and took a crash course.
“He was an ‘all in’ kind of person and father,” said his wife, Mary Giesel. “If his children played soccer, then he was going to learn about the game. He read, ‘Coaching Youth Soccer for Dummies’ and his love of the game began. We loved watching him watch Heath and Henry’s games. He would be completely focused on the play on the pitch. He would walk up and down the sidelines as the ball moved, dodging and hopping and mimicking little kicks of the ball just like the kids on the field. Oftentimes, he would forget to watch where he was walking and would bump into people.”
Giesel spent the last weekend of his life alternating with his wife at his children’s games, watching Heath’s Hoosier Futbol Club ’04 Wolves play at Grand Park in Westfield and Henry’s Hoosier FC ’02 Elite Wolves team play in a showcase in Cincinnati. While watching Henry’s game April 25, Giesel’s big heart stopped at age 58.
“Watching Heath and Henry play soccer was his joy, and it is in some way fitting that he took his last breath on the sidelines of the pitch,” Mary said. “We love him and we miss him already, but there is no doubt in our minds that he will continue to be present at every game Heath and Henry play.”
That support was felt by his children’s teammates as well. Alana Oehler’s son, Dalton Grubbs, has been close with Henry since third grade. The seniors are teammates on Hoosier FC ’02 Elite Wolves team and played together on Carmel High School’s team.
“Rick was a father to many, pretty much all these boys on the ’02 team consider him a dad,” Oehler said. “The soccer community has lost someone dear.”
A GoFundMe set up to help the family set a goal of $35,000. As of April 30, it had already raised $36,382 to help the family pay for funeral and other expenses.
Heath is a CHS junior. Henry, a goalie, has committed to play for Wabash College soccer team in the fall.
Felix Yau, a coach with Henry’s FC team and CHS assistant, said he was with Henry after Giesel collapsed and stayed with him until the ambulance took him to the hospital. Yaw said Henry’s teammates made it clear they wanted to stay with Henry and did not want play to continue.
“As I was walking toward Henry as Rick was being administered CPR, I saw the Kings Hammer team was in a prayer circle,” Yau said. “Soon after our team, their team and the referees were in one big prayer circle together. It went from a high-intensity soccer game to love and care immediately.”
Yau said Giesel was supportive of all the players, both on the club and high school team.
“He was pretty much at every high school game, every club game,” Yau said. “He was a father figure to kids in both programs.”
Giesel, an attorney with Liberty Mutual insurance, attended University of Cincinnati and then graduated from University of Louisville School of Law.
To contribute to the GoFundMe campaign, visit gofund.me/71b1c2f5.
The memorial service is set for 1 p.m. May 2 at Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, 1605 East 106th Street, Carmel. Memorial contributions can be made to Orchard Park Presbyterian Church