Season 2, EP. #8 – Coach Jim Johnson

Adam DeWittPrincipal Leadership Lab Podcast

Join Jeff & Adam as we chat with Coach Jim Johnson! 
Coach Johnson has developed winning high-school basketball teams for 30 years, taking over three losing varsity programs and turning them into winners in short periods of time. Of his 428 career victories, one in particular will surely never be duplicated.
On Feb. 15, 2006, Coach Johnson made the kindhearted gesture of 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.
Family tradition centered around basketball, first love.
Was cut from his college basketball team.
Head coach for 30 years
Currently speaking- Keynoting
Success came from studying leadership and building successful teams; not studying basketball.
Can have a different reaction virtually vs. in-person, which we can glean from
Catch players doing the right thing and build on that.
The J-MAC Story
Autistic boy, heart for basketball
Sat on bench JV & Varsity until Senior year
Had never won Section 5 championship
Came to everything, always stayed positive, persevered
Tried out 3 straight years, didn’t make it
Senior Night – gave him a uniform, told him he would play
Lesson: be open, keep listening with your team (when the team was down)
Lesson: embrace the moment, move on, don’t let it get you down
Beat Kobe Bryant out for the ESPY
Book: A Coach and a Miracle (based on the real-life story)
How do you get to the top and how do you stay there?  Build systems that you believe in.
Listen to players (students/teachers/etc.)
Get the best answer, not necessarily “my answer”
Focus on growth
Respect all people and all things.
Greatest hope is that we can disagree, it is ok. Just don’t be disrespectful.
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