Anne Chadwick Williams / Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

Bob Lee, who has coached area high school football for 32 years, stepped down as coach at McClatchy in order to focus on his health.

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Prep notes: Longtime football coach Lee steps down, citing health concerns

Published: Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 - 11:26 pm

Bob Lee’s master plan was to coach forever. Or close to it.

But after 32 years of coaching area high school football, Lee stepped down this week as McClatchy’s coach after one season – and three decades combined at Elk Grove and Delta – to tend to his health. Now Lee wonders when or if he’ll be able to return to the sideline.

“Coaching to me is a perfect retirement job, a full-time thing but not with a full-time teaching job, and that’s what I was doing,” Lee said Thursday. “My coaching goal was to pass Frank Negri (in his 47th season as an area coach, now an assistant at Roseville).”

Lee’s goal now is to get healthy. The 57-year-old spent the holiday season in and out of a hospital for a battery of lung and chest exams following a bout of pneumonia. The tests revealed Lee has a serious lung disease called pulmonary fibrosis, though doctors are still trying to figure out the extent and prognosis.

Lee said he has lost 45 percent of his lung functions through the years, and his lungs have scarring.

“It’s been a roller coaster, and it’s tough on the family because this is never good news,” Lee said. “I feel pretty good right now. My doctor did tell me that if this was really bad, I’d be dead by now. So that was encouraging. We don’t know what to expect. My doctor has one patient who is 99 years old and has had this for 35 years, so who knows? But it’s hard to make long-term plans, and it’s not a fun thing to Google.”

Lee started coaching in 1977 at his alma mater, Elk Grove. He was the offensive coordinator for Elk Grove teams that won Sac-Joaquin Section Division I titles in 1984 and 1991, and he later became head coach. Lee also had an eight-year stint as head coach at small-school Delta in Clarksburg, where he guided the Saints to a 10-1 record in 2010.

Lee brought stability and hope to a struggling McClatchy program in 2013, going 4-6.

“We hate to lose him as the coach because he’s really good, but I know he has to take care of himself,” McClatchy athletic director Rob Feickert said.

Added Lee: “I didn’t want to continue coaching and then all of a sudden it kicks up in October, and I’m on the sideline dizzy. Then what do you do? It wouldn’t be fair to McClatchy. I feel bad for McClatchy and the kids, because I wanted to be there a long time. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be a scout-team coach in the fall if I feel well enough.”

Football clinic – The 34th Clinic of Champions – one of the top high school football clinics on the West Coast and headed by Max Miller, the section’s winningest coach who is now retired – will run Feb. 28 to March 1 in Reno.

Speakers include Nevada coach Brian Polian, Sacramento State offensive-line coach Bill Laveroni, Stanford director of player development Ron Lynn, Del Oro coach Casey Taylor, Capital Christian coach Phil Grams and recently retired Rio Linda coach Mike Morris.

For more information, go to

Basketball openers – The section basketball playoffs get under way tonight for boys and girls. There are five boys outbracket games but only one that includes a local team: Wood at Whitney in Division II for the right to play at No. 4 Sacramento on Wednesday.

In girls play, there are six D-I outbracket games tonight, including Bella Vista at Sheldon for the right to play at No. 4 Nevada Union, and Kennedy at Granite Bay for a shot at No. 2 Oak Ridge on Tuesday.

Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD and listen to his “Extra Point” every Wednesday on ESPN Radio 1320.

Read more articles by Joe Davidson

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