Dr. John Johnson, SM South Athletic Director, was presented a Spirit of Sport nomination recognition by the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA).
The Spirit of Sport award recognizes a person who has given to those who inspire through activities, as stated on the KSHSAA website. Johnson has been the athletic director at SMS thirteen years. He plans to retire in May 2022.
“I can think of no one who is more deserving of the KSHSAA Spirit of Sport Award,” Dr. Todd Dain, SM South Principal exclaimed. “Dr. Johnson exemplifies everything that is right in education-based athletics, and I am proud that he’s my athletic director!”
Johnson serves as the treasurer for the Sunflower League, while guiding other athletic directors across the state through the Kansas Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (KIAAA)
and KSHSAA legal seminars on a yearly basis. Johnson’s passion for students with special needs, and his efforts in researching, organizing, and advocating for these students, successfully led to KSHSAA’s first ever Unified Bowling State Championship this year.
Dr. Johnson has done more for Unified Athletics than simply being an advocate for the sport, Sara Simpson, Special Education Teacher and Unified Bowling Coach, SM South High School shared.
“The opportunities for inclusion and personal growth for our athletes and partners carry immeasurable value,” she added.
Simpson states the coaching staff has seen huge interpersonal growth in their athletes.
“For the first time, some of them are pushing past frustration and persevering at a task because they know that their team is counting on them,” Simson shared. “For the first time, some of them are sticking with something even when it's hard. John has given us a gift far greater than a sport as he has championed Unified Athletics.”
As a Unified Bowling athlete, Mike Dugan said his daughter has gained an opportunity all students deserve to experience.
“The sense of pride my daughter feels from being part of a team, the camaraderie that’s developed with her teammates who she now calls friends and watching her as she encourages her teammates in competition is just awesome!” Dugan expressed. “It’s one thing to believe that inclusion is important, it's another to follow through with action!”
Support for Johnson’s recognition extended beyond district boundaries. Olathe Northwest Principal, Chris Zuck stated, “John’s advocacy for Unified Bowling has afforded our students the opportunity to participate in a KSHSAA sponsored sport that otherwise they may not have had the opportunity to participate in. In addition, the incredible relationships between our athletes and mentors has become much more widely known and celebrated. John’s influence in making these amazing connections come to fruition is worthy of the KSHSAA Spirit of the Sport award!”
Spectrum Sports recently highlighted the impact of Dr. Johnson’s efforts in this brief video.
“The student interviews are all you need to see to understand the significance of what John has done,” Dain shared. “He is revered for his veteran leadership and is highly respected by many across the state.”