Preps: Lincoln athletic director Johnson resigns

Preps: Lincoln athletic director Johnson resigns

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Preps: Lincoln athletic director Johnson resigns

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It’s a phrase that John Johnson picked up as soon as he got to Manitowoc Lincoln back in 2006. He still says it all the time.

“Ships sail together; tradition never graduates,” Johnson said once more Monday. “It’s kind of been the theme I’ve used in my time as athletic director.”

Those days are nearing an end, as Johnson announced his resignation on Monday to seek “a new challenge and new direction,” according to a release by the Manitowoc Public School District. He will stay on in the role through June 30 to ease any transition.

Johnson was hired as AD in October, 2006. He was working in admissions for Marquette University, commuting from Manitowoc to Milwaukee each day.

Despite the challenges the position entrails, it’s been a dream gig.

“A respected colleague of mine said, it’s an unbelievable privilege to be a Ship, and that coach is right,” said Johnson. “It’s been a privilege to lead the Manitowoc athletic programs.

“I spent a lot of hours contemplating this, but I know it’s the right decision for my family.”

Johnson noted several individuals who helped him get to where he is, and inspired him through his tenure.

First and foremost was his family, including daughters who often dealt with their dad’s long and non-traditional hours that being an AD often requires.

Johnson praised Damon Ryan at WOMT Radio, who hired Johnson part-time in sales. The two continue a strong friendship today.

“I’ll never forget what he did for me,” Johnson said.

Johnson also specifically thanked former basketball coach and AD Mark Christensen, who encouraged him to apply for the position and offer guidance; former superintendent Mark Swanson (now holding the same position in Reedsville), who hired him; former Herald Times Reporter sports writer Paul Keup, who handled the stories when Johnson’s son Brady died at age 11, “with dignity and class that meant a lot to our family”; and to school staff and trusted colleagues Biff Hansen, Debbie Knox, Kari Krull and secretary Mary Jo Deubler, plus the many coaches he enjoyed working with.

MPSD administration had good things to say regarding their eight-year AD.

“John has been an enthusiastic advocate for student athletes at MPSD,” superintendent Marcia Flaherty said. “He has contributed to the strong legacy of athletic tradition in the school district.”

“John put forth significant effort in honoring our school’s strong athletic history and tradition with the Lincoln Wall of Fame, and supported the 2011 renovation of Lincoln’s JFK Fieldhouse,” added Lincoln principal Luke Valitchka. “He was actively involved with the Lakeshore Athletic Hall of Fame.

“John is appreciated for his enthusiasm and contribution to Shipbuilder Athletics.”

A search for Johnson’s replacement will begin immediately. It won’t be easy shoes to fill, and Johnson is satisfied of the legacy he will leave behind.

“I’m proud of everything we did in eight years,” he said.

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