How Bethel football’s Steve Johnson became national coach of the year

Chub Reynolds was in his coach’s workplace at the University of Northwestern in mid-August 1990. He was discussing the soccer applications at Northwestern and its Arden Hills neighbor Bethel, and in addition his impending loss of life as a result of of a terminal most cancers prognosis that was already late by nearly a year.

Reynolds had been employed as Bethel’s soccer coach in 1970, when it was an unbiased and commonly dropping in opposition to a mishmash of groups.

Then got here what Reynolds known as the “glory years,” two seven-win seasons and an total document of 19-7 from 1975 by means of 1977.

Among the excellent gamers was Steve Johnson, a deal with who discovered his manner from Chicago to the then-small Baptist college.

Those wins gave visions of grandeur to the Bethel administration, which utilized for and acquired admission to the MIAC for the 1978-79 college year.

The Royals went 4-16 total and 2-13 of their first two seasons in the MIAC and Reynolds was fired. He became an assistant coach at Northwestern, then the head coach.

“For 9 years, I might open the paper on Sunday morning in the fall, have a look at the Bethel rating, see it misplaced once more and snigger,” Reynolds mentioned. “That modified final season after they employed Steve Johnson. As far as I’m involved, he’s one of my boys.”

And three-plus a long time later, after the program constructing, and all the wins, and a national Coach of the Year honor, Steve Johnson will sit in his workplace for an extended dialog and ensure to say the affect that Chub had on his profession .

“He strengthened to me that soccer is a tough sport, and how one can deal with individuals who play for you,” Johnson mentioned.

Chub died on Oct. 8, 1990, precisely one month after Bethel and Northwestern had performed soccer for the first time. Bethel gained 49-21.

That was profession school win No. 4 for Johnson. He now has 244 wins, the most amongst lively coaches in Division III soccer. And with 34 years (and 33 seasons), he is the longest-serving D-III head coach.

“What’s superb is to be advised you will have the most wins amongst lively coaches in D-III, after which notice that you’re 240-some [242] behind John Gagliardi, a legend you coached in opposition to for twenty-four seasons,” Johnson mentioned.

How have been you and The Man from St. John’s when all was mentioned and executed?

Johnson smiled and mentioned: “It wasn’t nice at the begin. He put 77 on us as soon as.”

Laughing now, Johnson mentioned: “I keep in mind him coming throughout the area for the handshake, saying, ‘Man, you guys are getting robust, Steve, and I mentioned, ‘John, you simply beat us 52-8.'”

Yet, Gags was proper. Bethel was getting robust. And good Jan. 9, the American Football Coaches Association introduced it had named Johnson as the D-III Coach of the Year.

As we talked, Johnson broke up for a second speaking about the honor, not as a result of of the plaque, however in reminiscence of “Pastor Bill,” his father.

“I take into consideration how my father would have reacted,” Johnson mentioned. “He was deaf in a single ear, very laborious of listening to, and the all-time loud talker. His voice would increase at inappropriate occasions in dialog and you may really feel embarrassed.

“I by no means ought to’ve felt that manner. He was a terrific man, a terrific preacher, and all the time confirmed such delight and confidence in his children.”

Steve was head coach for 4 seasons at St. Cloud Cathedral — with its present St. John’s rival Gary Fasching as an assistant — from 1982 to 1985. He was a grad assistant for the Gophers and John Gutekunst in 1986.

He then went to Montana State as an assistant for 2 seasons.

“Earle Solomonson had gained two national titles at North Dakota State, after which introduced his workers to Bozeman,” Johnson mentioned. “They weren’t actually involved in what I needed to provide.”

Johnson and his spouse, Susan, pregnant with twins, returned to their mutual hometown of Chicago after the 1988 season. Steve handed a take a look at to develop into a State Farm agent.

“The president and others at Bethel saved calling me, providing the job, and I saved saying, ‘No,’ as a result of I had the insurance coverage deal,” Johnson mentioned. “But I nonetheless had sturdy emotions about Bethel as a spot the place I grew quite a bit, and eventually took the job.”

Susan mentioned: “The subsequent day, I delivered our twin women, Katie and Maddie. And our son, Cornell, was nonetheless in diapers. Three in diapers and Steve’s heading for a job again at Bethel.”

So it might’ve been simpler if he had develop into an insurance coverage agent?

“Not in any respect,” Susan mentioned. “He would’ve been bored out of his thoughts. And the relaxation of us, too. The reality is, Steve is the least-competitive particular person in our household. Any household dialogue … he all the time offers in.”

It is totally different in soccer.

Johnson: “My objective from the begin at Bethel, and what I repeat to each staff is, ‘We need to be laborious — laborious — to play.'”

The regular-season finale in 2006 and Bethel’s first win (28-13) at St. John’s can be Example A:

The Royals mauled the beforehand 9-0 Johnnies for 299 yards dashing, 96 performs to 44, and 41:40 of possession time.

The late Coach Gagliardi, the all-time sufferer when confronted with uncommon defeat, mentioned:

“Every week, there is a stunner. This week … we’re the stun-ees.”

Which mainly describes what Johnson has executed for Bethel soccer over these a long time: Stunning.

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