ROANOKE, Va. – “I’ve had a blessed life. I might not be rich and famous and all that but I’ve had a blessed life.”
Jeff Johnson has spent nearly 50 years of service across four different high schools. Most of that time has been spent on Grandin Road in Roanoke at Patrick Henry High School. He’s on the cusp of wrapping of his 31st season as the track and field coach at the home of the Patriots--which will also be his final season.
“This is the last time I’m getting the hurdles up, last time putting the high jump pit up,” Johnson said as I joined him for what was his final practice. The team was making final preps for the VHSL Class 5 State Finals track meet in Newport News.
Johnson is grateful to simply have the opportunity to continue to inspire the youth and everyone he comes into contact with. That became more special 10 years ago when he received a liver transplant.
“I thought well I’ll never get to coach again. I was depressed and everything like that,” said Johnson. “And then I got the transplant and came up here and felt so much better.”
After overcoming tough times, Johnson has pushed through with one singular focus.
“I care greatly for these kids and it makes me happy to see them successful.”