ECSU names building after Thomas L.Caldwell

Marsha McLean
November 01, 2006 ECSU's Physical Education/Field House has been named after Thomas L. Caldwell, a Professor Emeritus, Head Football Coach, and Director of Athletics. A dedication ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m. on November 3 at the facility. In 1952, Coach Thomas Caldwell began his 40-year tenure at Elizabeth City State University, where he served as Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Health, Head Baseball and Assistant Football Coach; Golf Coach, a game he initiated at ECSU in 1955; Head Football Coach, Associate Athletic Director; and Director of Athletics during his distinguished career. He assumed the helm of the "Pirate" football program in June of 1961 when he was appointed Head Coach. He immediately directed Pirate/Viking football into a top contender position, as Elizabeth City State University moved into the powerful Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). He was honored as CIAA Coach of the Year in 1967 and 1971; NAIA District 29 Coach of the Year in 1967, 1968, 1969, and 1971. His 1971 Viking team won the coveted CIAA Football Championship, a first for ECSU - a record which stands to date. As President of the CIAA Football Coaches Association, "Tom" was the acknowledged leader in the integration of minority coaches into the powerful American Football Coaches Association. Along with fellow CIAA coaches, he initiated the CIAA/NFL coaching clinics. As willing recruits, his buddies from the NFL - Tank Younger (Los Angeles Rams), Rosey Brown (New York Giants), Rommie Loudd (New England Patriots), Emil Tunnel (New York Giants), and Ernie Stautner (Dallas Cowboys) - formed an NFL/CIAA partnership that exposed hundreds of minority coaches to modern coaching techniques. In 1972, the American Football Coaches Association published Coach Caldwell's article, "The Viking Football Flexed 'T'," detailing an offensive strategy which served as a model for northeastern North Carolina high school coaches for many years. Born in Carrollton, Georgia, he grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia. His undergraduate work was completed at Morehouse College and Houston-Tillotson College, graduating with a degree in Biology from the latter institution. He received his Master of Arts degree in Physical Education from Indiana University. Tom came to Elizabeth City State University after a successful professional career at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia where he taught and coached basketball, amassing winning tournament records for that institution. He also coached and taught at Houston-Tillotson College in Austin, Texas. In his years at Elizabeth City State University, Coach Caldwell touched the lives of hundreds of student-athletes. Many successful businessmen, coaches, teachers, authors, and other professionals were privileged to have acquired the tutelage of Coach Caldwell; they attribute much of their success to his stern disciplinary methods, insisting that his "boys" must be scholar/athletes and gentlemen in and out of the classroom. Among Tom's players, drafted or signed by the NFL, are Jethro Pugh (Dallas Cowboys), Ronald Leigh (New England Patriots), Argle Whitfield (Dallas Cowboys), Johnny Walton (Los Angles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles), Eugene Snipes (Atlanta Falcons), Waide Robinson (San Diego Chargers), Ronald Darden (Oakland Raiders), Lawrence Harrell (Kansas City Chiefs), James Griffin (St. Louis Cardinals), Elijah Thompson (New England Patriots), and John Bynun (Pittsburgh Steelers). Coach Caldwell's outstanding work with young people and his dedication to Elizabeth City State University have earned him a much respected and well deserved place in the history of this great institution. The late Thomas L. Caldwell, deceased in 1993, was the husband of Dr. Helen Marshall Caldwell, ECSU Professor Emerita and former Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and he was the father of Patrice Thomasena Caldwell Smith.