Mangham’s hiring of Wayne Johnson as its new baseball coach was five years in the making.
Discussions between the two parties date back to 2010 when then-head coach Scott Wilcher began having thoughts about taking over the softball program, a move he made following Mangham’s baseball state championship in 2013.
Further talks between Johnson and Mangham head football coach and athletic director Tommy Tharp came in 2012 and 2013 but nothing ever materialized. Mangham was able to close the deal on the third try.
Johnson’s hire was approved on Tuesday night by the Richland Parish School Board. He takes over for T.J. Weed, who was named the new baseball coach at Family Community Christian in Winnsboro earlier this month.
“It’s been an ongoing conversation,” Johnson said. “Tommy played second base for me at St. Frederick and we have a good relationship and the principal Connie Williams is one of the top administrators in North Louisiana.
“You put all that together and the timing was right.”
Johnson comes to Mangham from Downsville Charter, where he added to an already stellar resume by leading the Demons to back-to-back Class C semifinal appearances the last two seasons. He was named the 2015 Coach of the Year in Class C by the LSWA.
Johnson has compiled 770 wins, two state championships, three state runner-ups and 25 district titles in a 30-plus year career at St. Frederick, Jonesboro-Hodge, Cedar Creek, Caldwell and Downsville Charter.
The News-Star named Johnson’s St. Frederick program the team of the 80s in northeast Louisiana.
Tharp played for Johnson on St. Frederick’s 1982 state championship team.
“We were both young men at the time. He was 23 or 24 and I was around 17 and we’ve been friends ever since,” Tharp said.
“This was an opportunistic time for us to get one of the top-5 baseball coaches in the state. He’s won everywhere he’s been and I fully expect that to happen here.”
Tharp has also talked with Johnson about joining his football staff. Johnson was the defensive coordinator during the championship heyday of Jonesboro-Hodge in the late 80s/early 90s.
“I’ve been out of it since I’ve been at Downsville and that was a change because I’ve always coached football wherever I’ve been,” Johnson said. “Basically I’ve walked down the sideline with a headset on for 30 years.”
Johnson’s philosophy remains the same as it’s been since his first day in coaching. Expect to win and put in the work to do it.
“We play hard, we practice hard and we’re in it to win every game we play. We don’t go out and post a bunch of bulletin board goals or anything like that,” Johnson said.
“We go out to win and the one thing I’ve always wanted my players to understand is to accomplish something great it starts with hard work.”
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