The thought of retirement for Watsonville High Athletic Director Marcus Northcutt came creeping into his head last year in the summer when he was having a hard time with his health.
After five years of dialysis, he received a kidney transplant at the end of October 2022 and felt a jolt of rejuvenation prior to coaching the 2022-23 boys’ basketball season.
“I did get to a point where I thought I was gonna have to retire from work altogether and go on disability,” he said.
Northcutt, 51, announced in March he was stepping down as coach for the Wildcatz boys’ basketball program after spending the past six seasons at the helm. He will maintain his position as athletic director.
The biggest factor in his decision is that he wants to spend more time with his family, who he mentioned sacrificed for him to return to work and coach.
Northcutt said he realizes it’s alright for him to step away from the sidelines and clipboard in order to provide support for his family.
“They never gave me a hard time, no matter how bad I looked or how much I complained about pain or how tired I was, they supported me going to practice or going to games still,” he said. “It felt like it was time for me now that I’m healthier to start being somebody for them.”
Northcutt previously coached varsity basketball at San Lorenzo Valley High for 12 years and Scotts Valley High for two years before taking over at Watsonville in 2017.
Vice principal Joe Gregorio—who was recently named the football interim head coach—said Northcutt was amazing and he was a role model of how a program should look.
“[Northcutt] came in, kind of built up the basketball program and he’s done a great job of it,” Gregorio said.
The Wildcatz won a share of the Pacific Coast Athletic League Santa Lucia Division in 2021-22 under Northcutt, but it was his ability to keep the kids in the classroom that impressed Gregorio the most.
“All the things that we talked about for who we want to build in the football program, he’s built in the basketball program because those kids are being successful all the way around, the whole student,” he said.
Northcutt said he’s going to miss being on the sideline and the one coach that players, or students, can come to when something is bothering them.
“I like being somebody that they can count on,” he said. “I like being somebody that they feel comfortable enough to share, and having the ability to help and support them.”