Johnson returns to coaching

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Oran graduate and former coach will lead the Sikeston girls team.

Fred Johnson will return to coaching this winter when he takes the reins of the Sikeston High School girls basketball team.

Johnson, an Oran graduate who led Sikeston's boys team to the final four in 1995, resurfaces for his fourth high school coaching stint.

"Once a coach, always a coach," Johnson said. "You don't ever just get it completely out of your system. I've always been a warrior, always liked to be in the heat of the battle."

He stepped down from the boys basketball post in Sikeston after eight seasons in 1998 and became the dean of students of the Sikeston school district. He will retain that position.

Johnson first tested the coaching waters as director of the Cape Girardeau Civic Center in 1976.

"This was just a bunch of boys who came to the Civic Center all the time to play and I saw that they had talent and just needed to be organized," Johnson said. "That's when coaching got in my blood."

That group later formed the nucleus of Central's 1980 Class 4A state championship basketball team.

Johnson's first high school coaching job was at his alma mater, where he was the head baseball and basketball coach. He led Oran to two straight state baseball playoff appearances in 1980 and 1981.

He went on to Scott County Central, where he led the girls basketball team to an 88-2 record in three seasons, including state titles with an unbeaten team in 1982 and a once-beaten team in 1984.

Obviously open to fresh challenges, Johnson left coaching again in 1984 to take a position with Texas Eastern, a gas pipeline company, at its Oran plant. During a four-year stay at Texas Eastern, Johnson admitted the lure of high school coaching never left him.

"Every time I saw one of those big, yellow buses run down the road, it bothered me," he said.

Johnson returned to coaching in 1988 at Egyptian High School in Tamms, Ill., before taking the post at Sikeston in 1990.

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