Jim Caudill, the head boys and girls soccer coach at Wilkes Central High School, died on Thursday afternoon at Wake Forest Baptist-Wilkes Medical Center due to heart failure, according to family members. He was 64.
A native of Wilmington, Del., Caudill had coached the Eagles since 2014. He started coaching the boys team that fall and then became the girls head coach in 2017 following the retirement of longtime Girls Head Coach Uwe Ehrlich.
Every Wilkes Central team won at least 10 matches during Caudill’s tenure.
In addition to coaching soccer, Caudill also played a major role in the locally based C Foundation, or the James F. Caudill Traumatic Brain Injury Foundation, which was started after his son, James, suffered a traumatic brain injury while long boarding without a helmet back in Oct. 2012.
Caudill also served as a director of coaching for the Wings of Wilkes — a feeder program for Wilkes County soccer.
During a coaching career that spanned nearly 30 years, Caudill also coached countless young athletes through Wings of Wilkes, the Catawba Valley Youth Soccer Association in Hickory, West Wilkes, Davie County and Mooresville High Schools, the Powerade State Games of North Carolina, Lake Norman Soccer Club and the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association Olympic Developmental Program.
When he wasn’t coaching, Caudill had played in the Premier Adult Soccer League based out of Winston-Salem for more than two decades.
Caudill oversaw the inception of the soccer programs at West Wilkes back in the mid-1990s as he served as the head coach for both the boys and girls teams from 1995-2001, leading the boys squad to a Mountain Valley Conference championship in 1998. One of his former players, Wesley Golds, is currently the Blackhawks’ head boys soccer coach.
Caudill had previously served as an assistant coach at Wilkes Central under former longtime Head Coach Mike Sloan during the Eagles’ North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A state championship run back in 2005. During that season, he had an opportunity to coach his son, James Caudill, a 2008 Central graduate.
This past fall was a trying season for the Eagles. According to Jim Caudill, Central almost didn’t have a boys team this past fall at the beginning of fall practice due to low numbers. The Eagles finished 10-12 and made the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs for the seventh season in a row.
Before the start of the 2020 girls soccer season, Caudill had been diagnosed with lung cancer back in late December.
But he remained on the sidelines as the head coach for the Wilkes Central girls soccer season. The Eagles, who had won the last three MVAC championships under Caudill, were 4-0 through March 12 — the day that the NCHSAA announced the suspension of all spring sports events.
Note: Look for more on Caudill’s legacy, including posts, comments and well wishes from former players and colleagues in next week’s Wilkes Journal-Patriot.