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SAN DIEGO – The Mira Mesa High School community continues to mourn the loss of head football coach Chris Thompson who died Saturday from complications of COVID-19.

At the high school, the football team started a memorial for their coach who had just begun his fourth season at the helm of his alma mater. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Thompson had been battling bone cancer as well and was admitted to the hospital last Monday.

Thompson’s players and friends remember him as honest and straightforward, two traits that garnered him much respect.

“A lot of the players he coached didn’t have super active father figures in their lives,” Thompson’s son and former player Trace Thompson said. “He became a sort of a surrogate father figure for them and how they valued his advice, his coaching and basically his parenting.

“A lot of people just really valued him as an individual outside of football.”

Thompson, who was 53, also previously served as head coach at Bonita Vista High School and as an assistant at Helix High School, touching numerous young lives throughout the county.

Thompson’s classmate Aurelio Morales will lead the program in an interim capacity.

“A lot of us do this (and) it’s our passion,” Morales said. “It wasn’t his passion. This was his ministry. This is how he got to the kids. Those kids, they would sit there and he would talk to them and lecture them and tell them, give them all the wisdom he had.”

Mira Mesa High Principal Jeff Sabins said counseling services would be available for students and staff beginning Tuesday.

“We appreciate in advance all the prayers and positive thoughts you will have for the Thompson family. He was an amazing leader, an inspirational football coach, and an even better man who truly believed in his players and who made an irreplaceable difference in the lives of our student athletes and their young minds,” a letter from Sabins said.

The community established a GoFundMe campaign to help the family. That link is available here.

Mira Mesa also plans to set up a public memorial for Thompson with details to come.