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Jeff Johnson Tabbed as Athletic Director of the Year

Tom Zuber (far left) poses with his retired jersey along with Jeff Johnson (right of Zuber) and Tom Elder (far right) during Zuber’s jersey retirement ceremony before the W.F. West-Centralia baseball game at Bearcat Stadium in Chehalis on Monday.

Peer Recognition: W.F. West Administrator Rises to the Top of the Heap in District IV

By Jordan Nailon


W.F. West Athletic Director Jeff Johnson was selected as Athletic Director of the Year for District 4 for 2019 but he’s not letting the achievement go to his head. He’s simply got too much experience to allow himself to be impressed with his own success.

“Somebody must have miscalculated or not known how to count because they said that I won,” Johnson joked on Wednesday.

While he was quick to make a joke, Johnson, who has served as the Bearcats AD since 2010, also expressed gratitude to be honored by the members of Washington Secondary Schools Athletic Administrations Association.

“It’s always nice to be recognized by your peers,” Johnson admitted. “It’s just been a real strong district of great leadership and it’s been a pleasure to work with all those guys.”

Johnson is a 1981 graduate of Castle Rock High School where he was a four sport athlete in football, basketball, baseball and track. He later went on to play basketball at Lower Columbia College before transferring to Western Washington University to further his education. His first coaching and teaching jobs were in La Conner before he was hired by the Tenino School District. While in the Stone City, Johnson taught elementary, middle school, and high school classes while taking turns serving as the head baseball coach, head boys basketball coach, head girls basketball coach, and assistant coach in both football and track.

Over the years Johnson began to transition out of the classroom and into service as an administrator. These days he acts as an assistant principal at W.F. West in addition to his duties as Athletic Director.

“Sports is just an extension of the classroom. We come here and work one job for seven, eight hours and then school gets out and we go work another job until 9 or 10 at night,” explained Johnson. “For some of these kids, sports are what gets them back up and into first period English class the next morning.”

Johnson noted that there are many facets to his job as AD that the community at large may not be aware but that’s what keeps the job interesting. Contrary to popular misconception, it’s not all scheduling and watching basketball games.

“There are so many parts of being an Athletic Director that most people would never understand unless they could get in your pocket and follow you around,” Johnson said. “It’s just from the ground up. Providing safe playing environments and surrounding kids with great people.”

Johnson noted that success on the field, court, mat, and pitch is helpful to fostering positive relations both in the school and around the Mint City at large. He credits the coaches at W.F. West for keeping the ball rolling in the right direction year after year.

“Success breeds success and I think that we’re just fortunate because we’ve had a great group of kids and parents over the last 10 years,” Johnson said. “These coaches give up countless hours and they want to put out a product that the community can be proud of and that does things the right way.”

Johnson added that W.F. West athletics are buoyed by a vast cast of volunteers who help to make sure all of the details are taken care of whether it’s after hours or under the bright lights on game nights.

“I rely on quality people to help announce games and work behind the scenes, and all the moms and dads and boosters. We’re very fortunate around here to have help like that,” Johnson said. “When those things are all clicking, it’s really fun to be a part of.”

Johnson was first recognized as the Athletic Director of the Year during an awards banquet at a WSSAAA conference on April 30. He will receive additional recognition in August during an annual retreat in Portland. The award is far from the first Johnson has received during his coaching, teaching, and administrative career. Previously he has been tabbed as coach of the year, teacher of the year and principal of the year during his assorted stops on the high school circuit. That experience has helped Johnson to maintain perspective over the years.

“You know that anybody to your left and right is equally deserving,” Johnson explained. “You’ve got to understand that it’s a result of the collective unit of who you’re working with day to day.”

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