For the first time in 42 years, the Charlotte Catholic football team will have a new leader as Mike Brodowicz is taking over for long-time coach Jim Oddo, who announced his retirement following this season.
Oddo has led the Cougars since 1973, winning 358 games, including three state championships – in 1977, 2004 and 2005 – and helping guide Catholic to the state championship final as recently as 2013.
For the past 10 seasons, Brodowicz has served under Oddo as the co-defensive coordinator and has worked as the weightlifting coach for the past eight years, developing a familiarity and understanding of the program and the kids, something he’s sure will help in his new role.
“I have the same values as Coach Oddo did about loving and respecting the game and your opponent and in that aspect it’s a pretty easy transition. Now if I can win a few games like he did we’ll see what happens,” Brodowicz said with a chuckle.
“It’s going to be a process like anything. The nice thing is I’m going to have a great staff around me. Those guys are very good and very professional so I don’t have to sit here and think I have to do it myself.
“The kids know me, the parents know me, I’ve been here for 10 years so they know my personality and know who I am and how I operate. I’m a guy who wears my emotions on my sleeve – I’m going to jump and I’m going to scream – but I think the kids like that. It should be fun.”
A former quarterback at Elon University, this is Brodowicz’s first varsity coaching job. He has served as an assistant at Elon and Eastern Alamance High and was the JV coach at Providence Day before joining the Catholic staff, where he has found a home.
“I was hoping to get the opportunity to coach here,” he said. “The first time I stepped on the field as a member of Coach Oddo’s staff, I walked on the field and looked around and said ‘This is what I’ve been looking for.’
“I’ve worked under 19 head coaches – four different ones in college – and all of them kind of said you have to be careful and make sure you pick the right place if you become a head coach one day. I was very careful of not pigeon-holing myself in jobs. I wanted it to be the right job and that’s what I saw here.”
Brodowicz said that while he’s excited to get going and can’t wait to step on the field as the coach of one of the area’s most esteemed and tradition-rich programs, it doesn’t come without challenges.
“I won’t kid you – there is some pressure to win and to keep this thing that Coach Oddo started going,” he said. “The last six or seven years our motto has been to protect the tradition – that’s kind of the model we’ve had around here. It’s not just the wins and the losses but playing hard, being good citizens, playing the game like it’s supposed to be played, play hard nose and physical but at the same time not running up the scores and treating our opponents with respect.”
Brodowicz said that the familiarity with the remaining coaching staff and his hands-on work with the defense will ease his adjustment. Although the former quarterback said he’s excited to work more on the offensive side of the ball, he said to not expect big changes in the Cougars’ schemes, particularly the Wing-T formation the team has run under Oddo.
“We’re going to run the football and we’ll be a physical team. We’ll still be that. The Wing-T is what makes us successful here and I’d be dumb to come in and say we’re going into the Spread or something,” he said.
“What do you keep and what do you change? That’s a delicate balance I’ve been thinking the last three months. I didn’t come into a program that’s been losing. It’s easy to say ‘I’m throwing everything out’ with a losing program. When you come into a winning program – especially one that’s had such a long history of winning and tradition as Catholic – you have to look at the core values of the program, the school and the community and put your little wrinkles
Brodowicz said that he’s excited to get going, but has a long list of things he needs to accomplish before the Cougars kick off their season on Saturday, Aug. 22 against Providence Day.
But when it’s all said and done and he gets to walk on the field leading the Cougars, he said he’ll be ready to get the job done.
“It’s a little overwhelming, I have a whole list of things that I need to do before I even get to that point, but I get a little butterflies in my stomach when I think about walking on the field as the head coach even now on May 6,” he said.
“It’s a great honor – it truly is. I’ve thought about it for a long time, that if I ever got to walk on this field as the head coach it would be a great responsibility that I have and that’s how I feel. I believe in keeping it fun. You have to be fundamentally sound, but it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun and it’s about the kids. That’s why I coach.”