Legendary Charlotte Catholic coach dies at 85

By Richard Walker

Jim Oddo

When Jim Oddo left an assistant coaching job at East Mecklenburg High School to become head coach at Charlotte Catholic, the Cougars were preparing for their fifth season as a private school competing in a N.C. High School Athletic Association league.

Catholic had won only 16 games in their first four seasons in the Rocky River 2A Conference and had never won a league title or advanced to the state playoffs.

All of that changed quickly under Oddo’s direction as the Cougars became one of the state’s best high school football programs.

On Wednesday, the school announced that Oddo had died at 85.

“With heavy hearts and fond memories we are sad to share that legendary Cougar Football Coach Jim Oddo passed away overnight,” the entry read on the school’s website.

It later continued with, “Please join the Catholic family in praying for his wife Lorraine, along with his children and grandchildren. He also leaves behind thousands of Cougar football players and their families who were influenced as much by his love for the game as they were by his love for his players. His impact was felt far beyond the field that bears his name, reaching thousands more CCHS students, parents, fellow coaches and faculty members. Rest in peace, Coach.”

Oddo guided Catholic from its location on Park Road currently home to Holy Trinity Middle School to its move to its current location off N.C. Highway 51.

In his 41 seasons as Cougars’ head football coach, he led the program to 30 state playoff appearances, 19 conference titles and five state championships.

Oddo’s 358-145-2 coaching record at Catholic makes him the winningest coach at one school in N.C. high school history and fourth overall in head coaching victories.

Hired away from East Mecklenburg after 11 years at that school, Oddo’s first coaching duties were at Ft. Pierce, Fla., High School for three years.

Jim Oddo during his playing career at N.C. State.

Oddo, a Delaware native, began his coaching career after a standout football playing career at N.C. State.

A center and linebacker, Oddo helped the Wolfpack win the 1957 ACC title as a senior and he was selected All-ACC center for his efforts that season.

A two-time coach of the prestigious Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas (1991 and 2009), Oddo led the Cougars to a league title in his third season as head coach and a state title in his fifth season.

Catholic won league championships in 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1986, 2002, 2003, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The Cougars won state titles in 1977, 1981, 1984, 2004 and 2005.

The 1977 title was for Class 2A. The 1981 and 1984 titles were old Division II state titles for Western N.C. 2A. The 2004 was for Class 2AA. And the 2005 title was for Class 3AA.

How well did Oddo build Catholic’s program?

Since he left, former Oddo assistant Mike Brodowicz has guided the Cougars to an 85-8 record, five more league titles and four more state championships.