Tom Brenner retires as St. Clair CC, track coach: 'This progam means everything to me'

St. Clair cross country coach Tom Brenner is seen during a meet in this undated photo. He retired after five seasons last month.
St. Clair cross country coach Tom Brenner is seen during a meet in this undated photo. He retired after five seasons last month.

Five years after the torch was passed to Tom Brenner, the time has come for him to hand it off.

Brenner retired as coach of the St. Clair cross country and track and field teams last month. Paul Schneider has been named his successor.

"It's hard to say when a good time (to retire) is," Brenner said. "It doesn't feel like there's ever truly a good time to stop coaching. Because you always want to keep going for the kids that you currently have in the program. But with my own kids entering the ages they're in, I wanted to make sure I never missed any of their activities and that I'm pulling my weight around the house. It just felt like the time was now."

He took over both programs in the fall of 2018. Since then, the boys cross country team has three regional championships (2020-22) and five state finals appearances (2018-22). Brenner also helped the Saints add to their Division 2 record of consecutive trips to the state finals, which currently sits at 23.

"This program means everything to me," said Brenner, who graduated from St. Clair in 2005. "That's part of why I was so invested is that it's personal for me. St. Clair cross country, track and (former) coach Jon Davidson changed my life in many ways. I ran on the team in 2003 and 2004 and was an assistant after that before I went to Central Michigan (University). I met my wife on the cross country team when we were in high school."

After finishing college, Brenner and his wife moved to California and started their family. They eventually moved back to St. Clair. Brenner joined Davidson's staff as an assistant for one year. But after that year, Davidson decided his former pupil was ready to take the reins.

"The first race that I was the head coach on my own, I got totally choked up," Brenner said. "Just knowing what the program meant to me in the past and with all the hopes that I had for it going forward. The way that it went was better than I could've expected.

"I never expected to build the type of relationships I did with so many of the parents, the kids and the extended families. There were so many individual accomplishments for the kids, too. To see them make their goals and dreams come true was a fulfillment that I never could've imagined. I'm so appreciative of all the parents and the kids who bought into us."

Contact Brenden Welper at Follow him on Twitter @BrendenWelper.

This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: Tom Brenner retires as coach of St. Clair cross country, track