Charlotte Catholic head football coach Jim Oddo announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of the school year after more than 40 years with the Cougars.
Oddo, one of the most accomplished high school football coaches in North Carolina, said he “meditated over this for four or five days and decided.” He told his players in a meeting Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m not a spring chicken anymore,” Oddo, 78, said. “I just finally made up my mind to pull the trigger.”
The news, which was first announced in a post on the Charlotte Catholic Twitter account, surprised athletics director and assistant coach Kevin Christmas.
“Shocked,” was the first word Christmas used to describe Oddo’s retirement. “I worked with him for 20 years. ... He’s an icon. He’s a legend. He’s been a father figure to me.”
Oddo started at Charlotte Catholic in 1973. He coached more than 500 games in his career, finishing with a record of 358-145-2. He finished last season as the state’s active wins leader.
Under Oddo, the Cougars won three N.C. High School Athletic Association state championships in 1977, 2004 and 2005.
Charlotte Catholic, led by All-American running back Elijah Hood, made it to the 3AA state championship game in 2012 and the 4A West Regional championship game in 2013.
“If he’s back for another year, I’d probably be back with him,” Oddo said, laughing, about Hood, who graduated after the fall semester and is enrolled at North Carolina.
Oddo said he had been thinking about retiring the past couple of years. It had nothing to do with his health, he said.
“Right now, I feel like I just want to get away for a while,” Oddo said. “It’s been a hell of a ride. I’ve enjoyed it. It’s not very often people get jobs that they don’t mind going every day to do it.”
Oddo, who also coached at a school in Florida and as an assistant at East Mecklenburg, won’t stray too far from the game. He expects to still be at “every one” of Catholic’s games.
“I may even end up with some little Pop Warner team somewhere,” he said.
Christmas said he hadn’t thought about who will replace Oddo. He hopes to start the process of finding a new coach as soon as next week.
Tuesday afternoon, he was still coming to terms with the idea of Charlotte Catholic football without Oddo at the helm.
“When your dad’s gone to work for 30-something years and one day he comes in and says, ‘Well, I’m retiring,’ that’s how I feel,” Christmas said. “I don’t know what to do. I’m happy for coach if this is what he wants.”
Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe
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