Bill Epperly, a coaching mentor for generations of Flathead student-athletes, passed away June 29 at his home in Kalispell. He was 79.
Epperly was a beloved local figure who coached different sports for 49 years. This spring he was named to the national coaches hall of fame. Epperly was battling pancreatic cancer.
Epperly first arrived in Kalispell in 1966 and became an assistant basketball and football coach and head track coach. He left in 1971 before returning in 1979, where he remained a teacher and coach until 1993.
As an assistant, he has been a part of an incredible 13 state championships. As head mentor, Epperly has won two state basketball championships and finished second twice. In 2000, he began coaching the boys’ and girls’ high jump at Flathead, where he has had 24 state placers.
A two-time Montana Coaches Association Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year (1982 and 1989), Epperly was inducted into the MCA Hall of Fame in 1990. He was a 1993 nominee for National High School Basketball Coach of the Year and was inducted into the Kalispell Legends Wall of Fame in 2005.
“His genuine nature and what he has given kids through all the years is legendary and worthy of the hall of fame,” Bryce Wilson, the Flathead activities director and a former player for Epperly on Flathead basketball team in the mid 1980s, said earlier this spring.
“As a player for him, I have the utmost respect for the man.”