Profile from North Park University website (Kevin Shepke, SID):
Johnson and his coaching staff have accomplished what many in the region doubted could be done. The 10th year head coach has turned the 1-39 CCIW basement dwelling club of 2005 to a program that has garnered attention at the national level program. The Vikings won back-to-back CCIW championships in 2011 and 2012, and participating in the NCAA postseason. With the nationally-respected CCIW as the backdrop, that’s no small task.
In addition to conference championships, the Vikings have garnered multiple national and NCAA regional rankings, beaten teams ranked in the top 25 nationally, played winning baseball against scholarship opponents, and defeated NCAA Division I competitors. The class of 2014 was one of only two in the CCIW that qualified for four straight CCIW tournaments.
On his watch, over 70 players have seen their names etched in the Viking record books. Over 80 slots are held by Johnson’s players for career records, along with 70 plus slots in the single season book. They’ve fared well on the CCIW level as well. Johnson has had 49 players named to the All-CCIW squad and had two CCIW “Pitcher of the Year” recipients, as well as one CCIW “Newcomer of the Year”
On the national level, 24 players have been voted to the Rawlings/ABCA All Central Region team, with two All-American award winners and one Rawlings National Gold Glove winner. They have also been well represented in NCBWA/D3baseball.com’s honor roll as well, with four All-Region awards and one Central Region “Pitcher of the Year”. In the last seven years the Vikings have been among the NCAA team leaders for stolen bases, stolen bases per game, batting average, hits, runs scored, strikeouts, and hit by pitch (NCAA statistical champions in 2011). The Viking program has also developed a good rapport with professional baseball, with multiple MLB draft picks and free-agent signings during his tenure. For his efforts, Johnson has three times earned the CCIW “Coach of the Year” award (2006, 2011, 2012). His 196 wins are good for second all-time at NPU, and he is the fastest coach to reach 150 wins in the 99-year history of the program.
The accolades for his teams aren’t strictly baseball related, however. The Vikings have also seen an equally impressive elevation in their academic performance. Their team grade point average has steadily risen to consistently over a 3.0. This hard work has culminated with a multitude of Academic All-CCIW team members, four prestigious CCIW Jack Swartz academic award winners, five Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District selections, and one Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American award.
“Our focus is simple to articulate and tough to do. We’ve created an environment that values success on every level, and we’re working hard to elevate what that means. This is a program with considerable history on the conference and national level (six CCIW titles, six NCAA regional appearances 13 All-Americans) and we’re committed to honoring and building upon this. I think this mentality has clearly become a source of pride for our program. It’s exciting to be a part of the results-oriented thinking that has taken hold. We are well positioned to continue to elevate this,” states Johnson.
“We want our guys leaving here as better players, and I think our track record shows that they are. If our players reflect anything from this staff, it’s these aspects; they work, they demand a lot from each other, and they play the game hard. I know our guys appreciate the work that our staff puts into teaching the game. We coach our guys the way we wanted to be coached; with intensity, enthusiasm, and attention to detail. This staff has been constructed with attention to coaches who have a high quality college and professional baseball background, guys who have been winners, and guys with legitimate postseason experience. Collectively, we have 16 years of professional playing and coaching experience, All-America Awards, NCAA regional appearances, and NCAA statistical champions on this coaching staff. They also all happen to be guys who can build rapport and teach. There is some legitimate credibility to how our guys are prepared.”
A Mendota, IL native, Johnson has also held coaching positions with other elite baseball organizations. In 2005 and 2006, Johnson held positions with USA Baseball as a Trials Coach for the Youth National Team. The National Team trials process whittles the best prospects in the nation down from roughly 5,000 at the Junior Olympic Tournament, to a Trials Team of 36, to 18 players who represent the nation at the world championship. The 2006 National Team went on to win the Gold medal over the likes of Cuba, Venezuela, and Mexico in the COPABE/Pan-Am Championships. In 2004 he served as an assistant for the Holyoke Giants of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. The NECBL is an NCAA-sanctioned, wood-bat college summer league. Professionally, Johnson serves as the Central Region chair for the ABCA/Rawlings All-America committee as well as the Central Region chair on the ABCA Division III Committee. He also spent four seasons as an assistant at CCIW rivals Elmhurst ('02) and North Central ('03-'05).
As a player at Elmhurst, Johnson set an NCAA record for consecutive times reaching base safely (all divisions), earned both All-CCIW First Team and Rawlings/ABCA All-Central Region honors as an outfielder, as well as a two-time Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-Region honors as a student. He still holds places in the career record book in a number of Elmhurst career and single season offensive categories. Johnson earned a BA in secondary Physical Education and Health from Elmhurst ('02), and an MA in Leadership Studies from North Central ('04). He resides in Wheaton with his wife, Kelli, and their three children, Jacob (6) and twins Brady and Erin (3).