Coach Watters takes final lap after 40-year run


Grayson Salomon '22

Coach Liam Watters, teacher, coach, and mentor to hundreds of Crusaders, will retire in June after 40 years at Riordan.

If you’ve been at Riordan for the past couple years, you’ve probably noticed someone always walking and getting their steps in on the track early in the morning, at lunch and after school. 

That is no one other than Coach Liam Watters, who is celebrating 40 years of coaching and teaching to Riordan. However, this is also the year that Watters is taking his final lap around the track and at school this year, as he plans on retiring after the 2020-2021 school year. 

Prior to joining the Crusader family, Watters is a Saint Ignatius alumnus, graduating in the class of 1973. After SI, Watters attended St. Mary’s College where he played football and rugby and graduated in the class of 1977. He then came back to San Francisco to work at ICA for two years where he coached basketball.

The guy’s been here for 40 years, that shows a long streak of consistency.”

— Ryan Jones '09

 Watters began his marathon at Riordan in 1980 as a football coach for spring football. He officially started to teach PE and coach football the following year in 1981. 

“I came for an interview when the football and PE job opened up, and then I kind of knew the athletic director and it just worked out. It was great,” recalled Watters.

In his time here, Watters coached football for 28 years, track and field for 15 years, golf for four years, was head coach of all football teams at one point, (Varsity for 10 years, JV for 5 years and Frosh for 5 years), taught freshman religion, and continues to teach PE till this day. 

“It’s just been a lot of time spent out on that field,” explained Watters.

PE teacher and former student and player under Watters, Ryan Jones ’09 recollected the times he played under Watters’s coaching. Specifically, the brutal early morning practices during his frosh season. 

He told The Crusader, “We used to have 5:30 am freshman football practices. I will never forget those, they will haunt me till the day I die. Not because of the coaching, it was simply because no one wants to be up at 5:30 in the morning let alone on the old, soggy field. But you know, having Coach Watters and all my friends there made it a little bit more enjoyable.”

His class was enjoyable and he was a nice guy. Except when he made me do stairs when I forgot my PE Uniform.”

— Araav Patel ’22

Jones also was trained personally by Watters prior to his freshman year in the summer of 2004. During his freshman year, Jones became the captain of the freshman football team, which Watters head-coached. He was also a student of Watters in his PE class. As a result, Jones says the one thing that has impacted him that he picked up from Watters was consistency.

“The guy’s been here for 40 years, that shows a long streak of consistency. He’s always willing to show up, and be extra and be the coach you wanted him to be. Good players come and go, but Coach Watters has been here for four decades so consistency is something that I’ve definitely picked up from him,” shared Jones.

Former PE student Araav Patel ’22, also shared his experience with Watters and his class. 

“He was a chill teacher, his class was enjoyable and he was a nice guy. Except when he made me do stairs when I forgot my PE Uniform.”

While being interviewed for the story, Watters had a special request. He wanted to make sure that three coaches he coached with got the recognition they deserved. Specifically, Frank Oross, Mike Parodi and Kevin Restani. 

“Mike Parodi was here for 42 years, coached football and track. Coach Frank Oross, he was here for 45 years, coached football, track and cross country. Coach Oross, he got the money donated for the track and he also got the money donated for the weight room when it was first done and brand new. He raised so much money for the school it’s incredible. One more coach is Kevin Restani, the basketball court is named after him. He was an unsung hero,” Watters shared with The Crusader.

Finally, Jones had a few departing words for Watters. 

“You can look back and generations of Crusaders always talk about ‘Don’t test the Watters!’ I still have classmates that still say that! Thank you for your service,” Jones said, “and thank you for everything you’ve done. I wish you a happy retirement.”