In This Edition of Reed Between the Lines: Grafton High School Boys’ Head Basketball Coach Michael Johnson
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am 39 years old and a 1998 graduate of GHS. I married my wife Josie in 2003 and we have three girls: ages 14, 12 and 7. I graduated from Fairmont State with a B.A. in Social Studies Education and a master’s degree in Special Education. I currently teach History at Grafton High School.
When and why did you first become a coach? I have been a coach at GHS for 19 years. I started coaching football as a volunteer assistant in 2001 and have been coaching ever since. I have coached football, girls’ basketball, boys’ track, and boys’ basketball for the Bearcats. I also had a four-year stint as the head football coach at TCMS. I wanted to be a teacher and a coach for as long as I can remember. It is my way to give back to the youth of Taylor County.
What are some reasons you like being part of a team sport? I love the concept of working together as a collective group to achieve a goal. Everyone involved must be committed to the goal for the team to have an opportunity for success. This includes the coaches, the players and the support staff of the program. It is so rewarding to see the people in our program be successful not only in athletics, but in everything that they do. I think that the team concept is key to their success.
Who is your favorite sports hero and why? This is a tough one for me but if I had to choose, I would say Grant Hill. I always admired his body of work on and off the court. He always did it the right way.
What is the best part about competing? Definitely winning. I absolutely hate to lose at anything!
How do you try to make practices fun? I try to find ways to keep my boys focused at practice. I’m not always focused on making practice fun but making practice competitive. I want us to compete in everything that we that do. We do set aside a few minutes in practice everyday to have a good laugh. They are high school boys so its always entertaining.
What is your favorite sports quote? “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time.” Vince Lombardi
Do you have a favorite song you listen to prior to coaching a game? I usually don’t listen to music before the game but when I do its normally Metallica or Guns-n-Roses and every now and then Rick Ross’s “Hustlin”.
What is your favorite movie about sports? Hoosiers.
What qualities make a player a good team captain? Someone that is willing to sacrifice individual accolades for the benefit of the team. He also must have the respect of his teammates and he does this by working hard all the time even when no one is looking.
What is the one thing you always do after a big win? I get really excited for the boys because they are the ones that have gone out and accomplished something great. As for me I normally go home and start watching film and getting ready for our next opponent.
If you could be a successful coach in another sport what would it be? I have been fortunate to have some success coaching high school football. I have been an assistant coach on several playoff football teams here at GHS including a state championship in 2008 and a state semifinalist in 2006. I have coached several all-conference and all-state athletes as well.
What one word do you think describes you? Competitive.
Who is/was your favorite coach and why? Bob Huggins. He demands that his boys do it right. He is hard on them, fair with them, doesn’t accept excuses, and always demands maximum effort.
Where is your favorite road venue to coach? There are a lot of great gymnasiums in our conference, but if I had to choose one it would be Philip Barbour. It helps that it’s a rivalry game and there is normally a lot on the line. The games are always intense and a little chippy and I love it.
Which is more important to a team’s success: hard work or talent? Both are important but hard work in my opinion is the most important. I would take a hardworking kid over a talented kid any day. A hard-working kid is going to develop his game because he is willing to work at it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I will hopefully still be teaching and coaching football and basketball here at Grafton High School.
What do you think you do well as a coach? I have always had a really good working relationship with my players. As I mentioned before I hate to lose, but I feel that my most important job as a coach is to develop young men who are productive members of society. I want them to be good employees, good husbands, and good fathers. I try to set a good example for them and make them accountable for their actions on and off the court.
What do you think you need to work on as a coach? I think that as a coach you should always be looking for ways to improve. I am constantly watching film or reading materials to help me be a better coach.
*Each week the Mountain Statesman features a coach or player from a different Taylor County sport. We hope you enjoy the chance to learn a little bit more about them.