Why McClymonds football coach Michael Peters, a four-time state champ, is stepping down

OAKLAND — The public found out something in a social media post over the weekend that the McClymonds program had known since August: head coach Michael Peters will step down after the 2023 season.

And before Peters, 55, told the team he has led since 2013, his family was the first to know. 

“They could see it,” Peters told the Bay Area News Group on Sunday, one day after the post on X, the site formerly known as Twitter. “They can see that I’m tired.”

“I’m not getting any younger, and I’ve got to really concentrate on getting myself healthy because football is stressful,” Peters later said. “It’s been a long time at this school, a school I love.”

So why announce his impending retirement now at the start of the playoffs?

“It’s the last home game unless we get a regional game,” Peters said. “I wanted to announce it now so I could appreciate the guys and fans who stood by me. And I’ll get all my players coming back, and I’ve been in contact with guys who were ever on my coaching staff.”

Peters made it clear he will still be very involved at McClymonds, where he will continue to work as the Oakland school’s outreach coordinator. 

He will also retain his position as the school’s girls flag football coach and said the enthusiasm of those athletes was something he found refreshing.

“Those girls have more energy than the (tackle) football players,” Peters said. “They get me to go to practice, and they want to practice longer.”

When reflecting upon his long career at the school, which started in 1992 as an assistant coach before he became the head coach in 2013, Peters regretted how much of his time had been taken up the football program.

“I want to enjoy time with my grandkids, and they deserve it,” Peters said. “I kind of neglected my kids when they were younger because I was mostly at practice and taking (players) on the road for college tours. At least now, I’ll get a chance now to hang out with my grandkids more.”

The longtime coach had publicly mentioned considering retirement last season but decided to come back for one more year after losing to Mater Dei Catholic-Chula Vista in the 2-AA state championship. 

Peters, the father of Las Vegas Raiders defensive back Marcus Peters, mentioned his struggles to adjust to modern coaching, which included the prevalence of social media, overzealous parents and the burgeoning NIL endorsement space within high school sports as aspects he did not enjoy dealing with.

“With the flashiness of the game, from Pop Warner and up, I guess the game has passed me by,” Peters said. “I’m not with all the showboating.”

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If McClymonds wins its next two Oakland playoff games as expected, the Warriors will have never lost to a team from the Oakland Athletic League during Peters’ time as head coach. The program has won at least 10 games in each full season under Peters.

It’ll be a high on-field standard to meet for the next coach, which Peters said he will help find as part of a panel. But for him, being able to field a winner is not the most important quality for his successor. 

“For me, it’s about what coach is gonna come in and dedicate a lot to this program,” Peters said. “You have to come in and build the program, and you have to come in and help make kids productive citizens.”

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