With 15 years of experience on the sidelines, Chrispin Johnson has become of a beacon of football knowledge. However, he’s quick to point out that he wouldn’t be where he is today without his mentor.
That’s why the Orlando-based football coach makes it a focal point to give back to the next generation of coaches. Johnson is the junior varsity defensive coordinator and the varsity defensive line coach for Liberty High School in Kissimmee, Florida. He believes his commitment to building a strong culture is how he has stayed in the game for more than a decade and had success on and off the field.
When Johnson first began as a coach at Tangelo Park YMCA in Orlando, his mindset was drastically different. The only thing that mattered to him was the outcome of games. Losses took an extreme toll.
Soon after his coaching career began, Johnson vividly remembers a conversation that changed his priorities for the better.
“My mentor Charles Holiday sat me down and explained coaching is about teaching. You have to build a champion,” Johnson said. “He began to show me it was more than X and O’s. It was about family, community and a kid’s future.”
In his seven years with the Osceola Panthers, the program has won district, conference and state championships.
In order to create a championship culture, Johnson advises first-time coaches to put their imprint on a program by having the willingness to work hard to set a standard of excellence.
“Inspect what you expect. Attention to detail is so important. Break down your opponent (film or old school scouting), construct and implement your game plan,” Johnson said. “This means teach, preach, practice and repeat.”
In this same vein, a coach must set the tone and example through not just words. Actions are key to getting players to know you’re authentic as a coach.
“You have to make your plan clear and precise. Your team has to buy into your energy and your passion for their success,” Johnson said. “Your expectations can’t simply be in your head. It has to be an everyday part of your practice and environment.”
For Johnson, his culture revolves around hard work and a love for the game.
“When we have a rough series with our youth program no matter the level you hear coaches tell their teams, ‘We have to play Panther football,’” Johnson said. “This means we need you to play with heart, passion and a fire for the game. We are known for hard nosed, ground and pound football. That is our culture.”
Aside from just players and coaches, parents have to understand what’s going through a coach’s mind at the youth and high school level. When they know the method to the madness, it helps the entire operation.
“Parents have to know they can speak to position coaches and head coaches. Parents have to feel it is all about the team,” Johnson said. “Your son may be No. 1 and great, but it takes 11 in the field.”
Several athletes that Johnson has trained and coached are now coaches themselves. He is proud that he can pay forward the lessons he learned along the way.
“I love to see their intensity and attention to detail,” Johnson said. “It is a true blessing to know that you get a chance to impact the future of this game.”
From GameChanger and Rolando Rosa
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