Michigan’s professional organization of school athletic directors, the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA), has selected Tim Johnston of East Grand Rapids High School as Regional Athletic Director of the Year.
The award will be presented to Johnston in Traverse City on March 19 at the MIAAA Conference in which over 500 athletic directors participate.
Johnston attended Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School and was a three-sport athlete for the Cougars. He played football and earned his teaching certification from Grand Valley State College (now GVSU) in 1983 and completed a master’s degree from Michigan State University in 1993.
After graduating from Grand Valley State College, Johnston returned to Grand Rapids Catholic Central, where he began a 10-year stretch as a teacher, coach, and administrative assistant. During his time at Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Johnston coached five sports (football, wrestling, baseball, softball, and track) and was the head coach of the wrestling and baseball programs.
Johnston moved from Grand Rapids Catholic Central to Hastings High School in 1993, where he served as athletic director/assistant principal. In 1998, Johnston was named principal of Hastings High School, a position he held for 14 years before taking over in his current role of athletic director at East Grand Rapids High School.
Johnston’s contributions to educational athletics span across the state. He has held numerous positions on the executive board of the OK Conference and has been actively involved in professional organizations at the state and national level both as a principal and athletic director. Under his direction, East Grand Rapids has served as the host school for state championship events for lacrosse and skiing, and has also hosted a number of regional and district tournaments and games.
Johnston’s service to his community is admirable. He was a member of the Hastings Rotary Club and is currently a member of the East Grand Rapids Join Facilities Committee.
Beyond Johnston’s involvement and service, and certainly more important in his eyes, is his approach to the students he serves.
Jennifer Fee, principal at East Grand Rapids High School, said, “Tim has created an athletic program that is an integral part of our students’ overall educational experience and one that contributes to our students’ success in their post-secondary endeavors…he has changed the culture of our athletic program to align with his vital belief of athletics as a vital component of student learning.”
Johnston’s colleagues rave about his demeanor and character.
“One does not survive the challenges of being an athletic director without knowing how to cooperate and work with people. Tim always does the right thing, even if it isn’t the most popular or easy thing and that makes him special and stand above the rest,” Thornapple Kellogg High School athletic director Dave Chrisinske said. “His ability to interact with people, mentor and teach kids, and resolve conflict sets him apart from others. He is a true professional.”
“I have had great mentors throughout my life,” Johnston said. “Beginning with John Dolce at Grand Rapids Catholic Central when I was a student, and then having the opportunity to be mentored by CR Smith and Dr. George MacDonald during my college years, all of these men helped me keep focused on my dreams of becoming a teacher and coach one day. Having the support of outstanding administrators during my professional career has been a blessing – Jim Galvin (GR Catholic Central), Carl Schoessel (Hastings), and now Jennifer Fee and Dr Sara Shubel at East Grand Rapids. Last and certainly not least, I am so proud to work with the coaches and support staff in our athletic department, especially Wende Johnson and Sue Seitz.”
His biggest support is his family. He has been married to his wife Lori for 30 years. Together they have spent countless hours washing uniforms, inventorying equipment, popping popcorn, and watching students compete. They have three children, Jen, Mike, and Ryan.
“We are so proud, not for what they have accomplished in the classroom or in athletics, but for the people they have become,” Tim said of his three children.
The MIAAA is a 57-year-old organization with nearly 700 members serving as athletic administrators in numerous high school and junior high/middle schools in Michigan. As partners with the MHSAA, the MIAAA works to promote the educational value of interscholastic athletics and the role and profession of athletic administrators.