Earlham College’s head coach Nick Johnson is the perfect example of “it’s not all about wins and losses.” The first year head coach finished 0-10, and won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
Earlham College is a Division III school located in Richmond, Indiana. Johnson’s peers would tell you that despite his record in his first season, there was no other candidate for this award.
The college offered Johnson the job after he spent years at the school on staff for years. With his wife suffering health struggles that kept his wife in a number of hospitals for over 500 nights, including over 15 operations and procedures for various issues, Johnson initially figured he would turn the job down.
She insisted otherwise, and Johnson took the position at his alma mater. The school introduced him in this video:
The program hasn’t won more than two games in a season since 2009. So trying to win football games while tending to his sick wife isn’t an easy task at all. Despite all of the hardships, Johnson never missed a practice, and has missed just one game.
With everything in mind, the conference decided to name him the coach of the year. In their release, the conference said:
This honor was out of respect for Johnson and his dedication to his profession, his program, and his personal life. Coach Johnson instills life lessons to his student athletes on the field while embodying real life challenges. Off of the field, Johnson continues to head the football program while his wife, Melissa, battles illness.
And of course, being a guy of extremely high character, Johnson attributed his receiving of the award to others, ““I do not accept this award for me, but on behalf of our staff. I don’t know where Earlham Football would be without Robert Lee, Chuck Ehret, Dyrell Roberts, Elijah Ferguson, Kevin Carr, Patrick Piper, Jeff Adams, Kyle Fischer, and Rick Davis. These men are the glue that held Earlham Football together, and I am honored to be associated with them.”
Coach Johnson’s story is quite amazing, and it also shows the awareness of the conference to recognize what is going on off the field, which gets past most people. Sports are fun, but it’s a game. The recognition for Johnson was a great move by the HCAC.