Ron Myers has spent nearly half a century on the football field sidelines, calling the shots and transforming countless student athletes into young adults off the field.
But after 47 years, the godfather of the Black Death defense at Watsonville High, is stepping down after he announced last week that he’d be retiring from coaching.
“Being around young people for that many years… It has to be something that you just love,” Myers said.
Myers made an official announcement at the annual banquet on Nov. 25 that this past season would be his final. He broke the news to the rest of the school the following day.
Watsonville athletic director Marcus Northcutt said Myers has been involved with the community for a long time and it’s going to be hard to lose someone of his stature.
“(Myers) brought a professional reputation and it automatically made Watsonville football more respectful just by having a coach of his caliber,” Northcutt said.
The 69-year-old longtime coach said he made the decision during the summer that this would be his final season on the sidelines. He decided not to tell the team until the end of the football year that way it wouldn’t be a distraction to the players.
“It’s about the kids and the team,” Myers said.
It’s always been about the kids for Myers and he said that’s going to be the part of the job he’ll miss the most.
Northcutt said it was a dream come true when Myers came onboard because he understood the intricate details, rules and regulations of the game. Plus, he helped organize fundraisers to improve the football equipment.
“(Myers is) leaving but he’s leaving the place much better than it was before,” Northcutt said.
Myers spent 13 seasons (two stints) as Watsonville’s head coach. He previously coached the Wildcatz from 1984-90 and returned in 2014.
During his return, Myers went 24-36 overall and 12-24 in Pacific Coast Athletic League and the now defunct Monterey Bay League.
Myers began his coaching career at Montebello High after his playing career at Whittier College was cut short. He went on to Huntington High in Long Beach, prior to taking over the program at Watsonville.
Myers led the Wildcatz to the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League title and Central Coast Section playoffs during his first stint with the program.
Myers went on to coach nine seasons at Monte Vista Christian from 1992-2000. He also coached 12 seasons (2002-13) at Soquel High before returning to where he began coaching in Santa Cruz County.
Myers led the Knights to a 60-53-2 overall record and went 33-29-2 in league play, which included an SCCAL title and CCS semifinal appearance against Sacred Heart Prep in 2012.
“I haven’t had a summer off in over 40 years and a fall, needless to say,” Myers said. “It’s your life.”
Northcutt said the one thing that stands out about Myers is he truly cares about the students.
“(Myers) tries to be a mentor, somebody they can count on even when they don’t play,” Northcutt said.
Northcutt said the school doesn’t have a new coach lined up and they are in the process of putting together a timeline of when the job becomes available.
Northcutt said next year will be a bit tougher because he didn’t have to worry about the program when it came to major details like scheduling and finances.
“Anybody that’s been doing it that long has to be doing something right,” Northcutt said. “You feel better having somebody that knows what they’re doing and hoping to find somebody that can get close to filling his shoes.”
Myers said he’s going to miss being on the sidelines drawing up plays and figuring out what the other team is doing. But he mentioned the one thing he’ll miss the most is building the long life relationships with the players and coaches.
“The kids are like your children and you love your children forever, you never stop that,” Myers said. “And the guys you coach with are like your brothers. It’s been a real kick.”
Editor’s Note:This article will be published in the Dec. 6 edition of The Pajaronian.