MEDINA — Jody Peters was hired as Medina’s boys basketball coach in 1998, but he remembers that moment as if it was yesterday.
“(Then-athletic director) Mike Davanzo gave me the chance to come back home to my alma mater, which is something I had always dreamed of doing,” Peters recalled.
“It’s hard to believe that 13 years have passed since then, but it just shows how fast time flies when you’re doing something you love.”
Now, however, it’s time for him to move onto the next phase in his life.
Peters submitted his resignation as the Bees’ coach on Tuesday, citing family reasons for his decision.
The married, father of four leaves Medina with a 164-123 record, which makes him the second-winningest coach in school history and ties him for the eighth-most victories all-time in Medina County.
“I know this is the right time for me to move on and do other things,” said Peters, the only coach in county history to take two boys basketball teams to regionals.
“I am closing a huge chapter in my life, so there is going to be an adjustment period with not coaching. But at the same time, there is a sense of relief and freedom as I look ahead to all of the things I’ll be able to do as a husband and a father.”
Peters and his wife Karen will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary on June 14. Their oldest son Zach is attending Palm Beach (Fla.) Atlantic University, while Tyler is a freshman guard at Wheaton (Ill.) College.
Daughter Ally — a junior and big-time college volleyball prospect at Medina — likely will join her brothers out of state in the fall of 2012, while their youngest child Luke is an eighth-grader and hoops prodigy.
All of those factors weighed heavily in Peters’ decision to retire from the sport after 26 seasons.
“There are so many things I’ve missed in our children’s lives because of my responsibilities with basketball,” said Peters, who previously coached at Northwestern, Wellington, Orrville and Ashland, in addition to being a graduate assistant at Kent State University.
“It really hit home this winter when I only had the chance to watch Tyler play twice in person. Also knowing that Luke was going to be a freshman, I felt like I just wanted to be his dad, as opposed to doing the balancing act between being a coach and a father.”
Though there were countless highlights during Peters’ era with the Bees, two stand out above the rest.
Medina stunned state-ranked St. Edward — and future NBA player Jawad Williams — in the 2000 Grafton Midview Division I District championship, 53-50. Those Bees were led by one of the county’s greatest two-man combinations in guard (and Ohio co-Mr. Basketball) Tony Stockman and center Travis Schwab.
Four years later, Peters added to his reputation as an incredible big-game coach as Medina completed a Cinderella run to the Copley D-I District title by upsetting Wadsworth 59-56 in double-overtime.
“I was blessed to coach so many fine young men here; too many to even try and mention without forgetting someone,” he said.
“I also was fortunate to work alongside quality coaches who really cared about the kids. Guys like Chris Hassinger, J.T. Sturm, Mark Valentino and David Negin are really good people, and we shared a common set of beliefs in trying to make a difference in the lives of these young men.”
Zach and Tyler Peters both played for their father with the Bees, adding to the family’s remarkable legacy at the school. Jody and his brother Jay were both Medina County MVPs at Medina, while their father Bob is the Bees’ third-winningest coach of all-time.
Adding those experiences up, Jody notes that he has spent all but one of his 48 years on Earth involved with basketball, “either as a coach’s son, player, or a coach myself.”
“I think Karen has seen how the stress of the last 4-5-6 seasons has affected me,” he continued. “The whole dynamic of coaching has changed, and it’s taken its toll — emotionally, mentally and even physically.
“That’s why I feel kind of footloose and fancy free today. I can’t remember the last time I had a free Friday during the winter months, so I’m looking forward to doing normal things again like taking my wife out to a show and dinner.”
Though Peters is leaving Medina’s bench after a 10-12 season, he won’t be departing the city anytime soon. He will continue to teach at the high school and plans on being in the stands, cheering for Ally and Luke as much as possible, in addition to supporting his successor.
“Believe me, we’re in Medina for the long haul,” he said. “Karen and I grew up here and we’re proud to be part of the community. It’s a good place to teach and I truly enjoy working with my students. You may not see me down on the court anymore, but you will still see me around town. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.