Wabash to Honor Coach Johnson on April 19
by Jim Amidon
March 17, 2008
Hall of Fame Coach Rob Johnson will call it a career at the end of the track and field season in May, capping a 37-year run as coach, mentor, and friend of the Little Giants.
Johnson took over the Wabash College track and field and cross country programs in 1972. He passed the reins of the cross country program over to one of his many former All-Americans, Roger Busch ’96, at the start of the 2007 season.
Johnson, who was inducted in the Wabash College Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994, will be honored at a retirement banquet on Saturday, April 19. For more information or to make reservations, contact Michele Tatar in the Alumni and Parent Relations Office by email or phone (765-361-6369).
Coach Johnson was the first Division III coach to serve as an assistant coach with the United States Olympic team when he served the team at the 2000 Sydney Games. He was also the 1995 NCAA Division III Cross Country Coach of the Year when he guided Wabash to a third place finish at the National Championships. He led Wabash to three top-10 finishes at the cross country nationals in the 90s.
He led the Wabash cross country team to six straight conference championships in the Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference and Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. His 1995 team posted two perfect scores (15) at the GLCA Championship and Great Lakes Regional. He led the Wabash track and field team to three straight ICAC championships in 1992, 1993, and 1994.
In his first year at the College, Johnson guided the 1972 track team to the ICC Championship (defeating Butler and Valparaiso) and GLCA Championship. All-Americans Ray White and Dick Bowerman represented Wabash at the NCAA College Division National Championships.
Coach Johnson has long been involved with the Olympic Development Committee and helped coach two US Junior National Teams. In 1981, he served as an assistant coach at the National Sports Festival in New York. A year later, he coached sprints, relays, and hurdles in Ethiopia as part of the Olympic Solidarity Project. He was the head track coach for the North Team at the 1983 Olympic Sports Festival in Colorado Springs and later served as an assistant for the US Junior National Team, which set two world records.
A native of Englewood, New Jersey, Johnson was a track and football standout in high school and later attended the University of Idaho, where he graduated in 1965. Johnson was the 1962 Northwest AAU champion in the 440 and was a finalist at the 1963 NCAA Championships in the 220. He earned his master's in education from Purdue University in 1974.