Johnson steps aside as Lady Crusaders' coach

Leaving on high note with best overall mark in 10-year career


FORT MADISON – Holy Trinity Catholic head girls' basketball coach Tony Johnson has submitted his resignation effective immediately.
Johnson, who took the Lady Crusaders to the Class 1A Regional semifinals this year and suffered a 60-44 loss to Montezuma, said after the game that it could be his last.
That became a reality over the weekend, as Johnson turned in his letter of resignation to HTC AD John Goetz.
Goetz said the resignation will go in front of the HTC board on Monday. Goetz said he doesn’t know if any of the assistants, Kirsten Shaffer and Shawn Hopper, have any interest in the position.
“We’ll open it up to people out there and see if anybody’s interested. I don’t know if any of his assistants are interested in that,” Goetz said.
“I’ve been very blessed to have excellent coaches over my years here. I haven’t had to fill very many openings in my 18 years.”
Johnson put up a 133-96 mark as the head coach. He also spent a couple years as the junior varsity coach and did a stint as Fort Madison’s junior high coach.
Johnson said he had an inkling that this year would be his last. His professional career in welding and manufacturing is becoming more and more demanding, a dynamic that is pulling at his commitment to the Crusaders.
“I talked with John Goetz about this at the start of the year. I never said anything to the kids because I didn’t want them thinking about that, but I did tell him that I thought it might be last year,” Johnson said.
“It’s just a lot of work. I don’t want to short the kids and that’s what’s happening now. I feel like I’m slighting them. I don’t get to take care of them and, with softball and volleyball, it’s hard to get them in. I just don’t have the time anymore.”
Johnson said leaving with such good talent left on the squad was one of the toughest decisions he’s ever had to make.
“I was pretty sure this was my last year, but then when it’s over and you have a couple days, then I wasn’t done and some parents asked me to stay. But we had a great year.”
The Crusaders tied Danville this year for the SEI Superconference South title at 12-2. They went 20-3 on the year, Johnson’s best mark in his nine-year tenure.
He said much of that talent will be returning and the Crusaders should contend for the conference title again next year.
”I told one of the moms it was one of the toughest decisions I have had to make. Four of the seven rotation are coming back. We’re losing (Mary Kate Bendlage) MK and Natalie (Randolph), but we’ve got Presley (Myers), Adalyn (Kruse), Teagan, and Anna (Bendlage) four quality kids coming back and this wasn’t easy for me,” he said.
“With some summer work, we could get back to our seven- or eight-deep bench.”
In his letter to the district, Johnson said he truly loved his time with Holy Trinity.
"To the young ladies I had the opportunity to coach, to grow with, to laugh with and to cry with. All the successes and the heartbreaks. Thank you all for being a very special part of my life. I have no words for all the special memories we shared together that I will always cherish and never forget. I spent the last 12 years doing the best I could to give you a meaningful experience that you can use for the rest of your lives'. I will always remember you all and know I will forever be there for you beyond the court. We accomplished way more than anyone ever thought we could. Thank you for always pushing for me to be a better coach.  I TRULY LOVE YOU ALL."
Johnson said he thinks the conference will be similar in quality to last year and the Crusaders will be well-positioned for whomever comes in. But he said he wasn’t sure any of the current staff will be interested in the spot.
“I just have no clue.”
He stopped short of saying he wouldn’t like to return to the sidelines again.
“You never say never. My wife might murder me, but right now my attention is in other places,” Johnson said. “I love coaching and working with the kids, but the biggest thing is it’s hard for me to get up as early as I do and then work with the kids, get home late, and get up five hours later.”
He said he’s also looking forward to taking some family time during the holidays, which hasn’t been much of an option while coaching basketball. But he said he’ll miss it in the winter, too.
“I’ll miss it a lot, especially when November rolls around.”

Fort Madison, Tony Johnson, Head Coach, resignation, Holy Trinity Catholic, girls, basketball, Lady Crusaders, Crusaders, John Goetz, Pen City Current, sports, news,


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