Southern Columbia’s Jim Roth named All-EPA Class 2A Coach of the Year
Nothing lasts 37 years anymore. Nothing. Concrete football stadiums decay. Bronze monuments tarnish in time. Yet, in Southern Columbia, Jim Roth keeps going to practice every afternoon. He’s been doing it for close to four decades. The high school coaching legend does it based on a simple tenet: He likes what he’s doing.
Roth likes it so much that no one in the history of Pennsylvania state high school football has done what he achieved in Hershey, winning a state-record 456 victories in his 37th year as a head coach, breaking the old mark of the late legendary Berwick coach George Curry, who accrued 455 coaching victories over 46 years.
The record-breaking victory could not have come on a larger stage than the PIAA Class 2A state championship, which Southern Columbia captured for the fourth-straight time with a 42-14 victory over District 10 champion Wilmington at Hersheypark Stadium.
Southern Columbia won its 11th state championship (Roth is 11-8 in state title games) and extended its winning streak to a state-high 60-straight victory.
But what motivates anyone to do something for 37 years?
“I like what I do,” Roth explained rather simply. “It’s something I enjoy. I started as an assistant in 1980 and in 1984 I took over as a head coach. I always looked at it one year at a time. People would ask if I thought I would accomplish this many wins, or a state record in wins or whatever? I would tell them that I’m always the one who looks at the task at hand.”
“Myself and our staff are that way. They never wavered. They never dropped off, even after all those good players that we had the previous three years. We coached those players like they had to still prove themselves.
“That’s been a real key to our success. We’ve been able to keep the kids hungry. Kids can get complacent, but our staff has been able to keep them on track. It’s not about the number of wins. I’m actually kind of glad the school did most of the honor stuff when the record was tied, because it wasn’t as involved.
“To be honest, I’d rather not have the recognition for most wins. It’s part of football, where there are so many moving parts and there are so many people involved. Obviously, if you’re the head coach, they’re going to pin those wins on you. But it’s about the program and being blessed to have the dedicated coaches that I have had, and the kind of kids and the community support that we’ve received over the years.”
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