Cleveland High defensive coordinator Eddie Kilmer talks to his defense during the 2021 football season. (Gary Herron/The Observer)



He’s spent more than four decades on the sidelines, and now Eddie Kilmer has been recognized nationally by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.

He recently became the third football coach from New Mexico inducted into the NHSACA Hall of Fame, joining legendary gridiron coaches Bill Gentry and Jim Bradley.

Kilmer, the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland High football team, joined then-head coach Kirk Potter following the 2010 season.

As Kilmer remembers it, he called Potter, asking if he had any vacancies on his staff. The two met for lunch and, before dessert, Kilmer had a new job. He wouldn’t have to go to Santa Fe to be an assistant, so it was a great move: The 2011 Storm won all 13 of their games and the state championship.

Cleveland also won state titles in 2015, as well as the last two – in 2019 and again in 2021. There was no championship season in 2020 due to COVID-19.

“He’s old school. He’s been around a long time,” said Bruce Carver, the executive athletic director for Rio Rancho Public Schools. “He’s seen a lot, been through a lot and a huge part of the (Storm’s) success.”

What makes Kilmer – and the Storm – successful, Carver said, is “his ability to relate to those young kids. He’s a motivator.”

Kilmer was nominated by Buster Mabrey, executive director of the New Mexico High School Coaches Association, which inducted Kilmer into its Hall of Honor in 2011.

“I think Eddie Kilmer is a true high school coach. He believes in the value of high school coaching, in the value of changing kids’ lives and impacting kids, and that’s where his heart and soul are,” Mabrey said. “He loves kids. He loves the game – that’s what he wants to do – and that’s admirable.”

The induction ceremony was held June 21 in Des Moines, Iowa.