What a great moment for Damien stud Ian Johnson. For those of you who never met him when he was in the SGV, you missed out. Watching him propose to Boise’s head cheerleader yesterday made me think back about a conversation I had with Ian on Signing Day in 2004.
I was pulling out of the Trib parking lot to go watch Wilson standouts Nick Gonzalez and Price Wilks sign their letters of intent when I got a call on my cell phone. It was Ian Johnson calling to tell me he was signing with Boise State. Now, some of you may not see much difference between San Dimas, where Ian lived at the time, and Boise. I don’t either, but I digress.
Anyway, we got to talking about how/why a SoCal kid would want to go to Boise. Ian told me he liked outdoors stuff and was looking forward to the somewhat rural surroundings. Then, he said the only hard part was having to break up with a girlfriend that he really loved. Naturally, I scoffed. I told him something to the effect of “Believe me, in the long run, it won’t be a big deal.” But he got real serious and insisted it was. I wasn’t about to give a HS kid relationship advice, because unlike most people I’ll admit that I know nothing about relationships except that they rarely ever makes sense, so I quickly changed the topic with something like “Hey, about playing on the smurf turf?” Ahh, glad I could help. I spoke to Ian all the way from West Covina to Hacienda Heights. As usual, it was a great overall conversation.
Ian Johnson is probably the most humble athlete I’ve covered. He or Brigham Harwell. When Ian and his mom came to the Trib for his All-Area mugshot, she asked if she could get a picture of Ian and I together. That’s happened only one other time, and that was with the Amat girls hoops team. Anyway, judging by his mom, you can see where Ian gets his class. There’s nothing better for a prep sports writer than to see one of the athletes he covered move on to even greater things. No matter what, you can always tell people “I covered that guy when he was at such and such a school. I knew he was going to be great!”
By the way, speaking of former HS athletes I covered. I got to see Charter Oak’s Will Harris and Temple City’s Desmond Reed celebrate their team’s Rose Bowl win yesterday. Also, on the way to the Rose Bowl press box I said hello St. Lucy’s volleyball star Sarah Mandala and her father in the parking lot.