Chris Thompson, while coaching his team at Mira Mesa High. Photo credit: Screen shot, @BStoneKUSI, via Twitter

Mira Mesa High School’s head football coach has died, the school announced Saturday.

Chris Thompson, in his fourth season as Mira Mesa’s coach, had guided student athletes for more than 35 years, according to the statement posed by school principal Jeff Sabins.

Sabins said he shared he news with “a heavy heart.”

“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,” Sabins wrote.

The school will provide counseling services for students and staff beginning on Tuesday, he added.

NBCSanDiego.com reported that Thompson, 53, died of natural causes.

Fellow football coaches, community members and former players remembered Thompson fondly on social media Saturday.

“Mira Mesa lost a good one today man! … Thanks for everything, love you coach,” wrote Mira Mesa grad Noah Tumblin, who now plays for San Diego State.

While sharing his story on a community website, The Faces of Mira Mesa, Thompson – father to Trace, a SDSU student – noted his journey as a coach.

He graduated from Mira Mesa High in 1986, eight years after his family moved to the area. He also got his start in coaching there, beginning with the junior varsity football team in 1988.

Thompson stayed with his alma mater until 2010, when he left for a staff coaching job in Vista, followed by another in Poway.

He became a head football coach in 2013, taking over the top job at Bonita Vista High in Chula Vista. After a stint at Helix High in La Mesa, he returned to Mira Mesa in 2018.

Thompson coached the 2015 Bonita Vista team to the school’s first CIF championship. He was also part of championship teams while at Vista and Helix. Mira Mesa reached a CIF final in his first year as head coach, but fell to Lincoln High.

“The foundation has been set, the goal remains the same,” he said of his goal to see Mira Mesa win a CIF championship.

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