John Johnson, who coached successful boys and girls teams at Canandaigua Academy, is headed to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame along with pro football great Jim Brown.
Johnson and Brown are among six inductees to be honored July 27 during the NYSPHSAA Central Committee Meeting at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, Oneida County. The induction class includes Joseph Cipp (Bellport football coach), David Kelly (Delaware Academy/football and track & field), Nina Van Erk (NYSPHSAA administrator) and Melissa West (Franklin Academy softball/basketball).
Johnson, head coach of the St. John Fisher College men’s lacrosse team, is a graduate of Canandaigua and St. Bonaventure University. Canandaigua’s boys lacrosse team won six Section V championships, reached the state semifinals four times and had a record of 357 wins, 149 losses during Johnson’s 27 seasons as coach.
The United States Lacrosse Greater Rochester Chapter Hall of Fame member called his latest honor “wonderful” and “humbling.”
“It’s really nice, I don’t know what to say,” Johnson said. “They only choose six people a year.”
Canandaigua’s girls basketball team won two sectional titles and reached the state final four twice in 12 seasons with Johnson, who also was defensive coordinator of the school’s state champion 1985 and 1999 football teams, plus seven sectional title winners.
“I was really fortunate,” Johnson said. “This is my 45th year of coaching. Now, after six years guys say, ‘That’s it.’ I was lucky. I had some really outstanding mentors.
“I was able to set up a program from youth sports all the way through, I was fortunate to coach at a place that allowed me to do that.”
Brown was reported to have excelled not only in football and lacrosse at Manhasset on Long Island, but also basketball, track and field and baseball before his days at Syracuse. He became the National Football League’s all-time leader in rushing yards as a back with the Cleveland Browns. Regarded as the best pro football player ever by some, Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
There were two running backs whom Johnson enjoyed watching during his youth, Chicago Bears great Gale Sayers and Brown.
“What am I doing on the same stage with the greatest athlete of all time, probably,” Johnson said. “I hope (he comes); he was my favorite.”
Tickets for the NYSPHSAA Hall of Fame banquet can be purchased by calling Sandy Schank at (518) 690-0771 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to purchase tickets is July 20.