By Brendan McCoy
Athletics have a unique way of bringing together people of different walks of life and creating a type of bond that is similar to that of a family. Many times these relationships have just as much to do with the outcomes of games as the X’s and O’s drawn up by the coach.
Ripon College women’s basketball coach Lauren Johnson happens to have a special bond with a certain member of her coaching staff, her father. After her second season at the helm, the there was an opening on the Red Hawk coaching staff for games and practices. That’s when the idea came about for Dave Johnson to take a step up to the collegiate level after more than three decades of coaching in high school, including coaching his daughter’s high school varsity team.
Dave Johnson can be found in Storzer all the way from early afternoon to late evening. The Red Hawk assistant helps his daughter in whatever way she needs him from recruiting to planning practices. Dave volunteers his time to insure that Red Hawk basketball continues to improve each and every day.
The stress of coaching a strong program that continues to improve each season has not come at the expense of Coach Lauren Johnson’s relationship with her father and assistant coach. “We probably have one of the best child-parent relationships because our relationship has been strengthened through basketball and competing with and for each other,” she said.
Senior guard Maddie Koster said, “I think that having Coach Lauren and Coach Dave working together has brought a sense of family to our team. Being a team is like being apart of a big family and Coach Dave and Coach Lauren have shown us what being a family is all about.”
Dave Johnson said, “There are two aspects that make this special to me. I get to work closely with her doing something she is passionate about. That love for the game really started when she was in 4th grade, so basketball has been something we’ve shared for a long time. Also, The opportunity to know her student-athletes and work with them each practice makes this situation special. I’m grateful for the opportunity to interact with them for a few months of the year. They certainly have enriched my life.”
Now coaching a Red Hawk team that is in position to compete for a second-straight conference tournament appearance, Coach Lauren Johnson can see some of her father’s traits in her own coaching style. “We are similar in work ethic and drive and love for the game and love for working with young adults,” she said.
Her father said, “The biggest similarity between us is that we both teach more than the sport. The lessons learned in athletics are numerous beyond the x’s and o’s. You want your players to be successful on the court, but even more-so off the court as contributing members of society who understand the importance of communication and teamwork. Her emphasis on academics and service to others will help her athletes in life after basketball.”