As high school coaches across the country say goodbye to another academic year and turn their eyes toward summer workouts and preseason practice, the winningest coach in Pennsylvania history will be thinking about how he’ll spend his retirement.
Upper St. Clair, Pa., coach Jim Render, 76, announced in January he’s stepping away from coaching after nearly five decades in the profession.
He leaves with over 400 career victories, two state championships, five western Pennsylvania titles and a slew of memories as one of the most successful coaches in the country. Render is the only coach in western Pennsylvania with that many career wins.
“I don’t know that there is any great time to retire,” Render said. “My family has been after me to do something else and enjoy a little part of the world. I’ve had a good run and I’ve coached a lot of great kids, marvelous kids.”
Render began coaching in Ohio in 1970 at Carrolton High School. After a two-year stint there, he moved across the state line to Pennsylvania and led Uniontown High School for seven years before settling into Upper St. Clair, 10 miles south of Pittsburgh, for the next 40 years.
Render said he hasn’t ruled out coaching somewhere in the future on a volunteer basis. He and his wife also have a trip planned to Italy in the fall.
“I’m going to be 77 this summer and I don’t know that I have to do anything and just enjoy what’s going on around me. I’ve got four grandchildren so if something comes up that interests me on a part-time basis I might go for it.”
In his free time before retirement, Render did some feature writing for USC Today, a local magazine, and profiled several of his former players including Doug Whaley, former general manager of the Buffalo Bills; Sean Lee, linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys; Terry Hammons, former wide receiver at William and Mary; and Dr. Jeff Rudolph, a former player at Yale University.
“(The stories) have been about people that I’ve had the honor of coaching who have gone on to be outstanding men,” he said.
In Render’s final season at Upper St. Clair, he earned his 400th victory and led the Panthers to an 8-3 record and a 38th playoff appearance.
The 400th win came on Aug. 31 vs. Peters Township, 16-14.
In the 1960 class of Dover High School (Ohio), Render graduated from Wittenberg University.
His wife, Pam, is retired from the Upper St. Clair school district, and his two sons, J.T. and Eric, both played for their father.
The Jim Render Profile
School: Upper St. Clair, Pa.
Years at School: 1979-2018
State Championships: 2 PIAA tiles (1989, 2006)
Coaching record: 406-141-6
Other schools: Carrolton, Ohio (1970-71); Uniontown, Pa. (1972-78)
Accomplishments: Won five WPIAL championships, six-time WPIAL runners-up, 38 playoff appearances, 23 conference titles, 25th all-time high school coaching list, coached NFL player Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys and former MLB player Kevin Orie, Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Hall of Fame (1998), Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame (2005), Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award (2013).