Johnson honored as D10 Jr. High Coach of Year

Dean Johnson doesn’t coach wrestling at the junior high level for any accolades – which is one of the reasons he’s so deserving of the District 10 Class AAA Junior High Coach of the Year Award.

“For the love of the sport, and the love of the kids,” said Johnson, head wrestling coach at Beaty. He was actually coaching at a youth wrestling tournament in DuBois when his name was announced as Junior High Coach of the Year at Saturday’s District 10 Class AAA Championships in Erie.

Johnson would have loved to have made the trip; he loves to see how much a wrestler has improved from junior high to varsity.

Take Warren sophomore Alex Streich (26-7) – a first-time Northwest Region Class AAA qualifier who finished second at 220 pounds in District 10;

“He didn’t have a lot of success in junior high,” said Johnson. “He’s a testament to hard work; if you put the time in, eventually you will become good at it.”

Johnson definitely has a stamp on the varsity program, having coached all three District 10 finalists -D.J. Fehlman, Chris McNeal and Streich – during his 10 years. Before taking a few years off when he had kids, Johnson was also a youth wrestling coach in the 1980’s.

“He’s done a nice job with the team down there,” said Warren coach Glenn Baldensperger, who was voted District 10 Head Coach of the Year in 2005, when Warren won the D-10 Team Duals. “The big part of a junior high program is just getting the kids to come out (for the team). I thought he’d have 15 or 16 this year; he has twenty-some kids out, and they stayed out, were competitive with McDowell – the kids made a great improvement from the beginning of the year.”

Baldensperger said it just seemed to be Johnson’s turn to be recognized.

“Everybody who’s gotten to know Dean through the years knows him as an outstanding role model for the kids,” said Baldensperger.

General McLane’s Ryan Cook was voted as District 10 Class AAA Head Coach of the Year, and McDowell’s Tom Lenox Assistant Coach of the Year.

Each Class AAA school gets one vote for each of the three coaching awards.

“I was really honored. I’ve been doing it long enough, I know the other coaches, too,” said Johnson, who was first told by his assistant coach Paul Streich. Beaty’s other assistant is John Hamm, who wrestled for Johnson.

“At the banquet, I want to tell the guys it just wasn’t an award for me; it was for the other two guys,” said Johnson. “And the team has a lot to do with it as well.”

Johnson, who wrestled for Warren from 1973-1976 and is in the Warren County Sports Hall of Fame (2010 Class), continues to coach even with his children done with school.

“I really seem to relate well with the junior high kids,” he said. “I just love all their energy.”

Streich said Johnson “brings a certain level of accountability and respect to our young men that just gets noticed by other teams.

“He comes off as so humble,” said Streich. “He’s like a throwback.”