Success has followed Pat Johnson everywhere in life, both on and off the gridiron.
“I've learned from some of the best at every level that I've coached at and it's really paid off to this point,” said Johnson, who was recently named the new head coach at Foss, replacing Ken Baker. “Dave Miller and Dick Zatkovich have been big influences both on and off the field,” added Johnson, who hopes to point the Falcons in the right direction very soon.
Success as a player came early under Zatkovich at Lakes High School in the 1997 season. “We won the state 3A title with future Washington Husky and Jacksonville Jaguar Reggie Williams leading the way for the Lancers,” said Johnson. “I had a great year on the offensive line.”
During his junior year, Johnson had a thought cross his mind regarding his future. “I realized with my smallish size that I was not going to play either major college or NFL football, so I thought about coaching as being my life calling.”
Enrolling at James Madison University for the 2000-01 school year, Johnson would redshirt and also enroll in the school's Reserve Officer Training Corps program, where he would meet his future wife. Hanging up his playing shoes at the end of the 2001 spring game, Johnson went on to coach at Harrisonburg High School and would find his niche.
“This would be my calling, coaching is where I wanted to be,” said Johnson, who to this day still maintains his enrollment in the Washington State National Guard.
After his father deployed to Iraq in 2004, Johnson came home to assist his ailing mother while his next coaching move was being contemplated. He would catch up with former mentor Dave Miller at Lakes during the spring of 2005. “Coach Miller runs a program as professionally as anybody, he is a top-class coach.”
While Johnson would help out during the spring, his future as a coach was in the not-too-distant future.
“Coach Miller made me the defensive line coach starting in the 2005-06 season,” Johnson said. “I could not say enough about the opportunity to come back and coach at my alma mater for such a solid, established program.”
Things began to happen at a rapid pace for the Lancers' new defensive line coach, and more than just football. “My wife and I were married in 2007 and while she was stationed in Augusta, Ga., I became a full-time National Guardsman. I was very busy to say the least.”
Last spring, a new job came open on the Tacoma School District website, the one Johnson was waiting for all his coaching life.
“I was hoping for something in the Tacoma-Lakewood area. After they let coach Baker go, I had two great interviews. It was a dream come true.”
When all was said and done, Johnson put his staff together quickly and thought about the future of Foss football.
“We want to change the culture of losing and be in the fight at the end. Another important factor will be to compete well against our rival Tacoma schools and build a winning tradition from there.”
Success, drive, and hard work – three things that resonate with Pat Johnson and soon with the fortunes of Foss Falcon football.