Note: The following appears in the Florida State gameday football program.
During the press conference prior to the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, Brian Dawkins, the first former Clemson football player to be inducted in professional football’s shrine, acknowledged some of the people within the Tiger program.
Dawkins listed coaches and former teammates, administrators, strength coaches and athletic trainers who had a positive influence on his career.
One of the people he named in that nationally televised broadcast on NFL Network was Ren Windham. She was the only person mentioned who was not working in the football office when Dawkins was at Clemson, an indication of the impact she has on former Tiger football players.
Windham has worked in the Clemson football office since 1997, two years after Dawkins graduated. Her title is administrative assistant for offense, defense and administration. That job description included putting gameplans together for coaches. But that responsibility does not describe her most important duties within the department to over 2,000 former Clemson football players and coaches.
It is Windham who keeps a database of Clemson football alumni. She is also responsible for keeping former players informed about major news through emails and social media.
When you talk about Clemson Family, it is Windham who has as much to do with that feeling as anyone. She keeps the family informed.
It is that strong bond with the former players that led Dawkins to mention her in his press conference.
“I didn’t watch the press conference, but my brother called to tell me Brian had mentioned me,” said Windham. “I never dreamed he would mention me. That was a great honor to be included.”
Her inclusion in Dawkins’ press conference would not be a surprise to many former Clemson players. Her work to keep the communication lines open among former Tigers, greats and walk-ons alike, is appreciated by all.
“Ren does so much with the day-to-day operation for the coaches, but what she does for the former players is so appreciated,” said C.J. Spiller. “She sends us articles on former players and keeps us together. She is someone we can call when we have a question about an upcoming game or a reunion. That is one of the things about Clemson that is so special. She provides a critical role in the football office, and her work is so appreciated.”
Windham grew up in Lamar, S.C. From the same hometown as Levon Kirkland, who will be inducted into the Clemson Ring of Honor in late October, Windham was a classmate of another Tiger.
“I grew up a Clemson fan and was a high school classmate of Mitch Tyner (former Tiger starting punter). Tommy Suggs also went to my high school and played at South Carolina. So I was familiar with the rivalry early in my life.”
Windham graduated from Clemson in 1976 and went into sales for many years. In 1996, she decided to change career paths and came to work at Clemson in environmental toxicology. A year later, there was an opening in Tommy West’s football office.
“I had been a Clemson football fan since I was young and loved coming to games, so I applied and got the job.”
About two of three years into it, in addition to her everyday work with the coaches, she took over the database of information on the former players. That also led to her involvement in planning reunions.
“Whitey Jordan, Jill (Williams-Wilks) and Bill D’Andrea started it, and I wanted to get involved.”
That database had 2,814 players, coaches, administrators, managers and trainers as of early October.
While she does not have the title, she is basically the director of football alumni relations in my mind. I can’t tell you how many times she has helped me track down a former player for an interview with the media or for an article I am writing for the gameday program.
“Working with the former players brings me great joy. It is the part of my job I enjoy the most.”
And obviously, former Tigers appreciate what she does. Just ask Dawkins.