Bulldogs welcome Brian Johnson as new cross-country coach

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With the stepping down of head coach Erin Spinks, Brian Johnson has some big shoes to fill as the new head coach of the cross-country program at Morgan County High School.  Spinks has taken the team to new heights with her energy and enthusiasm making running a fun and exciting fitness program that includes everyone from the elementary to high school level.  With his background as a college and lifetime runner, it looks like the team is in good hands.

Spinks will not retire completely.  She plans on continuing with the program as an assistant coach, but realized that the job was taking away valuable time from her family and job as a counselor at Morgan County Elementary.  She will continue to be a valuable asset for Johnson.

Johnson was first hired as a teacher in the new Career Academy.  He will be teaching engineering and agricultural mechanics, a much-needed realm of learning in the county, state, and nationwide.  He said, “I just returned from a training that included a lot of retired and current guys with skills of these valuable trades.  These areas are hurting throughout our state and country.”  The 44-year-old ‘youngster’ at the training said most of the other trainees were much older.  “It’s a field that businesses are hurting for.  We have a lot of kids coming out of college that don’t have experience in the field and others that can’t teach what’s needed at the high school level.  The schools are now hiring these older men and women with skilled trades to come in and teach the basics of those skills at the high school level.”  According to Johnson, Morgan’s career academy will apply a three-pronged approach that will include engineering and megatronix as well as construction and electrical courses to teach some of these skilled trades basics.

The father and of three children (Kate-10, Taylor-4, and Patrick-2) has been married to his wife, Kelly Frazier Johnson for five years.  She is a former swimmer at the University of Georgia who now has a marketing business in the healthcare field.   

Johnson was a little humbled by the fact that we wanted to interview him.  He commented, “This is all new to me.  I’m a first-year teacher and now a coach.  That’s quite different from anything I’ve ever done.  Right now we’re having volunteer workouts, which is all we can do in the summer.  We’ve had a good turnout with kids looking at the suggested schedule and some making the most of it.  The middle school numbers are really good.  We think that group could be very good in two or three years.  They have a lot of natural talent.  The high school numbers are pretty thin with the graduation of lots of seniors.  We don’t have long to get ready with school starting up soon.”

His upbringing in the family business in Griffin got him started where he worked for his Dad.  He learned the basics of boiler room, HVAC, electrical, and says he made a career of it after that.  Johnson was recruited out of Griffin High School to run for the West Georgia Braves’ Cross-Country team.  He also spent one season with the indoor track team.  “My life was consumed as a college athlete.  We never had a life running in a different state every week.  We traveled to Florida, Mississippi, and all over the country.  My college coach (Don Mederios) wasn’t a runner, but he was a guy who was able to make you want to run as hard as you could every time you went out to compete.  He was a motivator.”  Johnson didn’t want to talk much about it, but he was an Iron Man competitor for several years after his graduation from West Georgia.

Asked how he got the job, he told us, “I was encouraged by several people to apply.  Merritt Ainslie, a member of our church, told me they had a job opening up and suggested that I interview for it.  At the end of the interview, they asked if I had any extracurricular or athletic background.  When I told them I had run collegiately and in the Iron Man series, they later asked if I would be interested in taking over for Erin.  She wanted to slow down some.  I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Congratulations on your new hire at MCHS and welcome to the team.

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