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Denise Griffitts

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Denise Griffitts Interviews Coach Jim Johnson

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A Coach and a Miracle

Coach Johnson has developed winning high-school basketball teams for 27 years, taking over three losing varsity programs and turning them into winners in short periods of time. Of his 362 career victories, one in particular will surely never be duplicated.

On Feb. 15, 2006, Coach Johnson made the kind hearted gesture on inserting his autistic manager, Jason McElwain, now known to the world as J-Mac into Greece Athena High School’s final home game, which the Trojans won 79-43. J-Mac scored 20 points in just over four minutes,
including six three-point baskets, to become an instant national celebrity. Coach Johnson, also, was featured in major news outlets around the country.

To make the Hollywood ending complete, Greece Athena captured the first Section V title of Coach Johnson’s career a few weeks later. A second sectional crown followed in 2007, and Coach Johnson then coached the Trojans to their third straight league title in 2008 by posting a perfect 12-0 record in league play, netting Coach of the Year honors. His success continued in 2009 with a league co-championship (34-2 league record over a three-season stretch) and third sectional title in four years, with an overall record of 20-5, his first-ever trip to the state quarterfinals and more Coach of the Year accolades. In the recently concluded 2012-2013 season, his Trojans won the sectional title for the fourth time in eight years. Coach Johnson has made a number of radio and television appearances, including the Oprah Winfrey and Jim Rome shows. The Athena team was also paid a visit at school by NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson. J-Mac’s magic moment won the ESPY for “Best Sports Moment” at the ESPN awards show later that year.

Tags:
Coach Jim Johnson
Denise Griffitts
Teamwork
Sportsmanship
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