Earl Thomas Eller
Earl Thomas Eller
Year Inducted: 2017
Earl Thomas Eller was born on March 28, 1946, to Earnest A. and Geneva Eller. He and two brothers, Larry and David, grew up on a farm in Millers Creek, N.C. Eller attended Millers Creek Elementary and graduated from West Wilkes High School in 1964. He was co-captain of the football team his senior year and selected all conference for three years. Eller attended Mars Hill College and played football for two years until injury sidelined him. He graduated in 1968 and during his junior and senior years, Eller was the rst student director of Mars Hill’s intramural programs.
In 1968, Eller began teaching Biology, Health, and Physical Education at North Wilkes High School where he also started his coaching career, becoming the first head football coach. Eller inherited a tradition of winning because the Vikings were widely known for their basketball success, having won a state title. In his rst two years, the football team played a junior varsity schedule with afternoon games on the baseball eld. The Vikings played their rst varsity home game in their new football stadium in 1970. In 1972, their third year of varsity competition, North Wilkes won its first conference championship. Eller coached the football program for 13 years, participated in state playoffs for four years, and served as athletic director for 32 years.
Coach Eller worked tirelessly to upgrade facilities and establish programs for young men and women, and because of his dedication, the eld house at North Wilkes High School is named in his honor. During Eller’s tenure, North Wilkes athletics grew from two sports to 32 teams when he retired. Coach Eller started the weight program for all athletes and helped coordinate Athletic Booster Club projects that included: adding bleachers in the gym, baseball eld, and football field; press boxes at both elds; handicap viewing area; and a concession building for football. During Eller’s career, a football facility was constructed along with a ve-lane track, tennis courts, and women’s softball eld. Eller’s vision along with county and community support made this possible.
Eller has been and remains active in the North Wilkes community, Wilkes County, and across the state. He is a charter member of the Mountain View Ruritan Club, served on the Wilkes Community College Board of Trustees, and volunteers as a lunch buddy for Communities In Schools. Eller’s entire life has been one in constant motion of helping, encouraging, teaching, and sacrificing time and resources to better the lives of others. Earl loves traveling and spending time with his daughter, Kristy and her husband Mitch, and three grandchildren, Gavin, and twin granddaughters Piper and Ellery.