Jim Whitelaw was an integral part of high school sports from the 1940s through to the 1980s. He was a founding organizer of the Lethbridge Minor Football Association and a founder of the Alberta Schools Athletic Association. He coached the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute Rams basketball teams to five ASAA provincial championship titles (1958, 1960, 1961, 1965, & 1979), while attending 13 provincial championships. His LCI football teams won 19 Southern Alberta High School Football Championships and had five undefeated seasons from 1957 to 1961. Coach Whitelaw instilled confidence and teamwork and was a true mentor and friend to his players.
Jim set the tone for quality coaching in high school sports in southern Alberta. He was a creative coach and as a football coach in the 1950s and 60s, his use of the 'old' single wing formation required that every player had to do their job for each offensive play to work. He believed that everyone who tried out for a team should be a part of that team. He gave his athletes a chance to develop throughout their High School years, and under his guidance, they became better players each year and were major contributors to his teams' successes. Jim acknowledged he received a lot of help from his managers and statisticians. He also used his players to help, especially in football. Jim was pleased when many of his athletes became coaches themselves and were active in sport activities in their latter years.
Jim also fostered the growth of high school sports throughout Alberta. He was a strong advocate of football becoming an ASAA sanctioned sport, which happened a few years after he retired.
Jim Whitelaw received the Alberta Football Award in 1968 and the ASAA Robert H. Routledge Award in 1978. He was inducted into the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute's Wall of Distinction in 1997. He was inducted into the ASAA's Alberta High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.