Teachers and parents help weave our future and destinies more than we ever know at the time. When Tim Peeler was 14-years old and in the ninth grade, Gilda Mervine, an English and language arts teacher at West Lincoln, instilled in him a love for writing.
More than the love of the pen, she encouraged him to pursue it. Good thing he took her advice. Peeler, with nearly 20 years of sports writing under his belt, returned to West Lincoln Monday to present the schoolâ€™s library with the first book he has penned.
Perhaps just as important as Peeler not forgetting where he came from is his ability to not forget Mervine. He believes had it not for her, he may never have ended up writing.
â€œIf I would point to one person, she, more than anybody else was the biggest encouragement Iâ€™ve ever had to go into English and finding out I can make a career out of it,â€ said Peeler. â€œShe was my favorite teacher I ever had in high school and I had some good teachers.
â€œShe, along with my parents, Don and Ruth, pushed me in so many different ways from the time I was 14-years old until I graduated,â€ he added. â€œWhen I went back and visited her when I was at N.C. State, she still provided encouragement. I owe a whole lot to her.â€
On Monday, Peeler spoke to four different groups of students to encourage them to pursue both their dreams and an education.
â€œI looked out at the seats and saw me being in their position 25 years ago,â€ he said. â€œIt was interesting to see things Iâ€™ve done pique their interest, because Iâ€™ve had the opportunities to do some stuff like going to the Final Four.â€
He was also fortunate enough to be on the court when the University of North Carolina won the national championship this year, he said.
Opportunity is a funny thing. It is not dictated by how busy a personâ€™s life is, nor does it always lend itself to the most convenient moment.
In December of 2003, Sports Publishing LLC contacted Peeler to gauge his interest in writing a book pertaining to the rich tradition of N.C. State basketball. Although his wife Elizabeth was eight months pregnant at the time, he signed the contract, believing it was the opportunity he had been led to seize.
â€œOne of the things Iâ€™ve always wanted to do was write a book,â€ he said. â€œEven though I had a lot of things going on, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.â€
Shortly after he signed on the dotted line, plus seeing the birth of his son, Benjamin, Peeler hit the road again. A long-time free-lance writer for different newspapers, this time it was the Blue Devils from Duke Peeler covered in Atlanta and San Antonio, the sight of 2004â€™s NCAA Final Four.
Upon his arrival in Cary, where he lives with Elizabeth and son Michael (three-years old), Peeler spent time with his new-born baby.
The month of March, which holds the NCAA Tournament in the palm of its hand, is one of the busiest times of the year for Peeler. Covering different ACC teams is a elite privilege and one that wouldnâ€™t be available were it not for his wife.
â€œSheâ€™s very understanding. Sheâ€™s terrific,â€ Peeler said. â€œI was gone pretty much the entire month of March this year. She was taking care of the boys while I was gone and thatâ€™s an awfully big burden for somebody to handle by themselves.â€
He quickly added that both he and wife did get some help from their childrensâ€™ grandparents.
After working at five different newspapers throughout North and South Carolina, Peeler is currently a communications specialist for N.C. State and does a lot of sports writing for various magazines and newspapers.
Little did he know in 1984, working for the Technician (N.C. Stateâ€™s school newspaper), that he would be blessed enough to cover the Final Four seven times, the ACC Tournament 19-of-the-past 20 years and even the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
That was his message, as he stood in the West Lincolnâ€™s library, addressing the Rebelsâ€™ students: Read more, believe more and set their minds on exploring different avenues of life.
He talked to them a lot about reading and education and exposing themselves to as many different things as they could. Peeler wanted to let them see that they can go and do other things while at the same time not leave where they came from.
â€œIâ€™ll always have a little bit of Cat Square in me,â€ he said.
Peeler is a fine example of how a boy 14-years old can accomplish his dreams with the help of God and many encouraging people along the way.
â€œIâ€™ve been able to pursue a lot of the things I wanted to and do the things I never thought I would be able to do, things I had only dreamed about,â€ Peeler said.
â€œLegends of N.C. State Basketball,â€ dedicated to his mother, Ruth, who passed away July 2000 of pancreatic cancer, is Peelerâ€™s first book. Having rooted for David Thompson, Tom Burleson and Monty Toweâ€™s 1974 National Championship, it was fitting his first book pertained to Wolfpack Basketball.
by John Mark Brooks