It is with heavy heart that I report the passing of legendary football coach Randall Johnson. Rio Hondo Prep athletic director Ken Drain e-mailed late Thursday to write Johnson did not have much time left.
Drain sent an update today and received this e-mail when I walked into the office just now:
Randall did pass away last evening around 5:30pm. He coached here at the school for 25 years before he was forced to retire due to his illness in 2000. He won eight CIF championships in football and two more in girls basketball.
He also ran our summer educational tours. Every summer he would travel around the United States or Europe with either a group of high school boys or girls. He would plan the trips with the kids, work out all the details ahead of time, and handle all the problems that might arise during the trips. He would even drive the bus on the U.S. tours. I knew him before he was a high school coach because he coached me when I was 10 in the Kare Youth League program. He was my coach and leader, big brother, co-worker, and friend. He taught me everything I know about coaching and handling young people, he taught me what it means to be a leader, he taught me that the kids are more important than the game, and he taught me that what you are is more important than anything you can say or do.
He was a great man who was always a great example to the young people he worked with. He always would tell me that we coach not to win games, but to teach our kids values that will help them someday be great fathers, great citizens, and great leaders in their communities.
I will miss him greatly, but I know that every time I walk onto a field or court, for practice or game, the lessons I learned from him will go with me; and that fact alone will give me the strength to carry on no matter how bad things seem to be.
Randall Johnson by the numbers:
*8 CIF football championships (’77, ’79, ’82, ’90, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’00)
*4-time CIF runners-up in football (’81, ’83, ’87, 95)
*First 8-man football coach ever to receive California Small Schools coach of the Year award(1998)
*77 percent winning percentage.
*2 CIF championships in girls basketball (’90, ’94)
Memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 31 at 7 p.m. in Rio Hondo Prep’s Pavilion.
I never met Randall but have read stories from him written by the great Keven Chavez. It was clear how much Randall meant to coach Drain. He will be missed.