Tough Smart Unselfish
Donald K. Johnson was born on Monday, July 28th, 1930, in the city of Hollywood, California. The early 1930s brought about many significant events in the United States and abroad. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was leading the country through the Great Depression with his “New Deal;” a series of programs and promises he initiated with the goal of providing relief to the poor, reforming the country’s financial system, and recovering the in the midst of great economic decline.
Donald K. Johnson was born on Monday, July 28th, 1930, in the city of Hollywood, California. The early 1930s brought about many significant events in the United States and abroad. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was leading the country through the Great Depression with his “New Deal;” a series of programs and promises he initiated with the goal of providing relief to the poor, reforming the country’s financial system, and recovering the in the midst of great economic decline. One of Roosevelt’s known proposals came in 1933 with the amendment known as the Cullen-Harrison Act, which allowed manufactures to sell certain kinds of alcoholic beverages in the United Sates. In the technological developmental field, America experienced many advances in technology including the completion of the world’s largest building, the Empire State Building. The development of the radio became a central outlet to mass media, with new music called “Swing” blasting from ever music station. Conversly, 1935 brought about many firsts for America, concerning race and the civl rights movmement. Racial equality was an intense issue in the United States at the time. Amherst College graduate Donald Murray made history by being the first African-American student to be granted admission to the University of Maryland School of Law through a state Supreme Court decision. In sports, famous African-American track and field athlete, Jesse Owens, participated in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, where he achieved international fame by winning four gold medals: 100 meters, the 200 meters, the long jump, and as part of the 4x100 meter relay team. In college sports, New York’s Downtown Athletic Club awarded the Heisman Memorial Trophy for the first time in history. The 1930’s were a time when unemployment was a struggle for all walks of life. In particular, education took a great blow by the mid 1930s. Many children could not attend school due to the lack of school supplies and cuts in teachers’ salaries. Despite all the issues and challenges in America, the situation overseas seemed just as dire. The United States listened from afar, as authoritarian regimes emerged in several countries in Europe, in particular Germany and its famous Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler. Weaker foreign regions including China, The Middle East, North Africa, and Poland were all subjugated to expansionist rule by these bigger nations. The results of all these transgressions led to the launch of the Second World War. Clearly, Donald K. Johnson was born in an era where adversity and challenge were at the forefront of the decade. It was the lingering effects of the great depression and all the high and low points of the 1930’s that forever shaped who he was to become.
Childhood and Early Years
At the time of Johnson’s birth, his parents resided in the city of El Monte, California, where he would be raised and spend most his life. Johnson came from a rich family tradition of education and athletics. His mother, Cecil Sparks Johnson, was the starting guard for the University of Kansas women’s basketball team (1915 – 1918). She also took classes with the originator of the game of basketball, Dr. James Naismith. Johnson claimed that his “basketball roots go very deep” (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 1, 2009). Cecil was a stay at home educator who worked with disadvantage children from the town of El Monte. Having a stay-at-home position allowed her to spend a large amount of time with her family. Johnson described her as the anchor to their family unit. He recalled a story about his mother when she allowed him to have a pet rattlesnake in their house. His father was not too excited about the idea, but it was his mother who convenienced Johnson’s father that a snake would not be loose in the house. Still Johnson’s father did not like the idea of a snake but agreed to go along with the idea as long as it did not get loose.
Johnson’s father, John W. Johnson, was a high school teacher who taught English, French, and Theatrical Production at El Monte High School. Johnson attributes much of his educational success to his father’s love for academia. Johnson stated that when they visit El Monte and run into some of his father’s former students in town, must students stated how he was “the best teacher they had ever had!” (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 2, 2009). Johnson also attributed much of his work ethic to his father stating that he often times would wake up in the morning, teach a full class schedule, go home to eat dinner, then to commute to Los Angeles, California where he would then proceed to drive a taxi shuttle until the early morning. Often times, his father went to work with one to two hours of sleep but never complained about his lifestyle. Johnson’s father was also a huge advocate of sports; being a former track and basketball athlete himself. He would often times taught his family all types of sports, including baseball, basketball, football, and track. Johnson was very found of his father. He told many stories about how he loved to debate. One particular story summarized his father passion for debate when he explained that, “my father used to go to this town cigar store and he would take my brother and I along with him. We did not want to go with him because we knew that he would be in there at least two hours, debating with the local townsmen about why Roosevelt was no good” (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 2, 2009).
Johnson had two brothers, one older brother, Ken Johnson, and one younger brother, Richard Johnson, who is now deceased. His oldest brother Ken was and continues to be the biggest fan of Johnson’s career both as a player and a coach. Johnson stated that for a family gathering at his brothers home in Temecula, California a few years ago, Ken surprised him with five albums completed with news clippings, photos, articles, and letters all from the different stages of his career, starting from his playing days at El Monte High School, to his final coaching game at Cypress Community College (CCC), and everything in between. Johnson described his brother as the ultimate friend who never complained nor envied (at least to him) his sporting accomplishments. Ken was, and still is, proud of his brother.
Johnson recalls his days of growing up in the town of El Monte as some of the best years of his life. He reminisced on his sense of freedom and adventure with stories of running through vacant lots in his neighborhood and creating hide-and-go-seek games with his brothers. Johnson recalled a particular story where he and his brother (“The Johnson Brothers”) made-up an imaginary war between his neighborhoods rival family, “The Biesel Family.” His brother Ken actually retold this story and wrote a Mark Twain like story where “The Johnson Brothers” overcame in a great battle “The Biesel Family” to win the rights to their neighborhood. Life in El Monte seemed pretty easy going for the Johnsons despite the nation going through economic times with the Great Depression. Johnson attributes his steady childhood with the fact that both of his parents were in careers that were steady and lucrative. Although they lived modestly, Johnson did mention however that his parents strongly encouraged the boys to get summer jobs after the age of 12. Johnson’s first summer job memories came from Sam Warren Movie Theater, where he was the concession worker. His job was to protect and to equally distribute the chocolate to customers. Johnson made reference to this job explaining:
Because of the war, chocolate was not available. My job at Sam Warren Movie Theater was to guard the chocolate and make sure that anyone who wanted to buy chocolate had to also buy two other food snacks from the concession stand. I did not really like this job too much because I was not that popular amongst the people for making them buy snacks that they did not want (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 1, 2009).
Early Interest in Sports
Johnson’s interest in sports and athletics began at an early age. While Johnson grew up in an area where not many youth sports were available, he still managed to practice his baseball swing and running stride in the vacant lots of his neighborhood. It was during his early childhood days that his love for sports began. He mentioned how his brothers and neighborhood friends would create sporting fields and compete all day until they could not see anymore. He stated that their baseball diamond was something out of the movie Sandlot, where the first base was a cardboard box and the home plate was nothing more than a trash can lid. These childhood memories he explained, “created the love that I have now for sports” (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 1, 2009).
Johnson stated that he played a variety of sports during his grammar school days, but he was an exceptional runner and would often times challenge other kids from his neighborhood in races. Like their baseball field, “The Johnson Brothers” created a track and field in the backyard that incorporated an oval shape track, a long jump pit, a high jump bar, and a field for javelin throwing. It was during these backyard meets, that Johnson earned his reputation as the fastest kid around his neighborhood. This would all change in high school as he received his first sporting reality check.
High School Years
Johnson was a B+ student through out his high school career. He participated in track and field and basketball for his entire career but, concentrated more on basketball his junior season. He reflected on his experience entering into high school explaining:
I went on to high school, it was a very traumatic adjustment, and there were other athletes just as fast as or faster than me. I thought I would immediately move up to varsity level and be a sprinter on the varsity level. Things did not work out that way! (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 2, 2009).
At the end of his junior year, Johnson stated that things started to click for him athletically and the game of basketball became easy. He went into his senior year very confident and had a great season, earning Athlete of the Year for basketball. He received recruiting interest from local National Collegiate Athletic Association (NAIA) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division Two schools but said he did not feel comfortable going to a four year, so he decided to take another route.
After graduating from El Monte High School in 1948, Johnson attended Fullerton Community College (FCC) in Fullerton, California, where he played basketball for two years under two different head coaches, (1948 – 1950). Johnson’s first year in college was interesting in that, his basketball team was competitive both in league and playoffs, but they underachieved in their overall season. After the conclusion of the season, Johnson’s head coach, Art Nunn, while participating in a golf match, suddenly died on the course. With such a turn of events for the FCC Hornets, Johnson found himself the next year in front of a new coach whose reputation as a player was quite impressive. Alex Omalev took over the men’s basketball program at FCC in 1949. Omalev was a standout player from Detroit, Michigan, whom which, had a great playing career at the University of Southern California (USC). He received numerous awards, including the prestigious Clair Bee All-American second team award for Sir Magazine in 1943. Johnson stated that Omalev was hired as a full-time professor in the theatric department and had no intention of coaching basketball until the athletic director approached him about the opportunity. Johnson, under his new coach, led a talented FCC team to its first ever-undefeated Eastern Conference championship. That year he received numerous individual awards, including the most notable, First Team All-State and Conference Most Valuable Player.
Upon the completion of his Associates Degree at FCC in 1950, Johnson received a full scholarship to play for one of the most recognized and respected male coaches ever, Coach John Wooden of University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
Johnson stated that Coach Wooden recruited him as a replacement for the three sports All-American, and whom many regard as the greatest athlete to ever attend UCLA, George Stanich. Having such big shoes to fill, Johnson immediately found himself meeting his expectations with his role as an unselfish contributor. He led the Bruins in rebounding both years. The most significant event in his life took place at the conclusion of his junior year; Johnson married his Fullerton College sweetheart, (the former) Colette Hill. Coach Wooden was not happy with this decision but supported it despite his voiced opinion. His senior year, Johnson was the team co-captain and racked up numerous awards: Pacific Coast Conference (Pac-10) First Team All-Conference and even more prestigious, the Helms All-American Team. After the end of his senior year, Johnson, in May of 1952, graduated with a bachelor degree in Physical Education with an emphasis in Social Science. Johnson expressed that the transition from college to the real world was really short for him since he had a wife and needed to bring in income to support them; he passed up an opportunity to tour around the country with the West Coast College All-Stars, a all star team made of the top college prospects that did not get selected to the National Basketball Association (NBA). This opportunity would have taken him across the entire United States and South America and possibly to Europe if he signed a contract. Johnson instead, decided to start teaching and coaching at a high school in Pico Rivera, California where he truly learned the meaning of “teacher-coach”.
Days at El Rancho High School
Johnson began teaching at El Rancho High School, which is located in Pico Rivera, California. He was hired to both teach (English, Biology, History, and Physical Education) and coach (Boy’s Basketball). In the off-season of basketball, Johnson also coached the varsity tennis and assisted with the track and field team. During his first two years at El Rancho High School, Johnson stated that he went back to school and completed a Master’s of Education at UCLA. He felt that his decision to go back to school was critical in his success both at the high school level and his transition to the college game. He attributes his love of education from his parents and more specifically, to the summer manual jobs that he would perform in his adolescent years as a pool digger or factory worker. He stated that he began valuing education at that point of his life because he knew that he did not want to work those types of jobs when he became older.
Johnson reflected back on his days at El Rancho High School saying that this was the best opportunity because it gave him his “foundation for teaching” (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 2, 2009). He stated that El Rancho High School was in an area where there was not an abundance of talent and he never had a player over 6’-5.” El Rancho High School, athletically, was known for its dominant football teams and he expressed that many times the best players on his basketball teams would come from football. There was some unspoken tension between Johnson and the former head football coach at the time, which resulted in many of his the best athletes (football players) never touching the basketball floor. “There always seemed to be a rival for kids. I never understood why he would not recommend some kids to me, but it got worse when he became the athletic director” (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 2, 2009). Johnson spent eleven seasons at El Rancho High School and he fell in love with the coaching profession, stating that he qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) playoffs six of his eleven years (which was impressive that he won without athletic talent). He mentioned that he coached two young men that would later go on and have successful football careers, Danny Scott who was the starting University of Southern California (USC) fullback that blocked for O.J. Simpson, and Bill Nelsen, whom also went to USC as a quarterback, and was eventually drafted by the Cleveland Browns of the National Football Association (NFL).
Cypress Community College
After the completion of his 11-year teaching and coaching at El Rancho High School, Johnson stated that he was ready to move on to the next level. He stated that the ability to be able to recruit was appealing to him. He described the pattern of high school coaching as a “unforgiving cycle” due to the lack of diversity in a demographic area surrounding the school, many high school coaches will only get a “good athlete” every five or six years (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 1, 2009). The times in between the lolls can be very limited in the sense of filling teams with athletic ability. As a result, Johnson stated that he was ready to have consistent athletes on his team, and was ready for the challenge of the collegiate game. In the summer of 1966, he applied for the men’s head coaching job at Cypress College after his rejection of the head-coaching job at Fullerton College. Surprisingly, Johnson was passed over on the opportunity for the head-coaching job but was later called when the candidate that Cypress College selected turned down the position. Johnson reflected on this incident stating that, “I received the head job at Cypress through default. The person who got the job, who I am still not sure of even today, turned down the job and I received a phone call later that week asking if I would take the job” (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 1, 2009).
In his first year at Cypress College, Johnson lead the team to a 13 – 13 season with a significant increase of wins from the previous season. He stated that he knew that the team would not be as good as he would like, but he received the job late in the recruiting season and he had to live with his talent. The following season, he brought in new recruits and his team wins increased by 17% with an overall record of 20 – 10 to end the season. Johnson describes his coaching philosophy as being somewhat of a negative coach. He compared himself to the likes of Bob Knight, where he would occasionally lose control of his temper in order to drive home a point of passion for the game. He compared his coaching style to that of Coach Wooden where he emphasized a “Patient passing game with a huge emphasis on teaching the fundamentals of the game. I looked at what we were doing fundamentally and we focused on fundamentals more than any other program that I observed at the junior college level” (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 1, 2009). This philosophy would hold true his entire career with changes only in the way he delivered his teaching, being the only adjustment toward the latter part of his career. Johnson stated that in the beginning years at Cypress College, he had many regrets on the way in which he delivered his content to his players. He stated “I could really say some nasty things to my players, but deep down I knew, that they knew, that I loved them and would do anything to help them out.” Johnson for the next five years would have winning and losing seasons; with four of the five seasons finishing with over 50% wins and two of the five seasons with 20+ wins. In the 1970 – 1971 season, Johnson’s team was struggling to get over the “hump” that year and he could not figure out how to win more games. He expressed how he was the type of coach that could not handle losing. He described that he internalized his frustrations and would explode when triggered by little incidents or minor misconducts by his players. Johnson made reference to a particular incident where he let his frustrations boil over from a losing game explaining:
After one of our conference games, I think it was against you guys [Saddleback College], I was walking into my favorite after-game restaurant, and as I was walking I felt light-headed and my balance was off. I then had the sudden urge to just kick over a table. That was how frustrated I was…I did not think twice about my actions and I remember my wife, Collete, looking at me as if I had lost my mind. The funny thing is she was almost right. Later that week I went to our doctor and he diagnosed me with a genetic disorder called Polycythemia” (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 1, 2009).
Polycythemia is a rare blood disorder that is brought on by stress or overtraining. Due to a lack of oxygen in the blood, many victims feel dizzy or even experience vertigo. As a result, Johnson was asked to have limited contact with his team for the reminder of the year and after the season, he took a year of sabbatical to figure out whether or not he wanted to continue coaching. He did continue teaching his physical education classes for the year because they did not cause him stress. After a year off, he actually made up in his mind not to come back to Cypress to coach, but to just continue teaching, but due to some unexplained circumstances, he was asked by the athletic director to come back and coach. Upon agreeing to return, Johnson’s doctor insisted that he change his coaching style. He insisted that Johnson speak his mind rather than bottle it up as he did in the past. He agreed, and never looked backwards, in terms of his coaching style. Johnson admits that going on leave was one of the best things to ever happen to him. He received an opportunity to evaluate his worth to the program, and ultimately his health. With a renewed sense of purpose and drive, Johnson came back to coaching for the 1972 – 1973 season and his legacy continued.
Once Upon a Time
After Johnson’s return to basketball coaching at Cypress College for the 1972 – 1973 season, he got the idea to write down his thoughts on the season. As his team moved from pre-season to in-season action, he developed the idea to write a poetic account of his team’s battle with the different challenges of the season. Through the course of these reflections, he developed an essay entitled “Once upon a time…” He began his first entry like all coaches began their sports season, “bright eyed and full of energy” (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 1, 2009).
There was this team. A basketball team, with vision of grandeur – applause, pretty girls, scholarships, awards, recognition, titles and all that. Life was wonderful (Johnson, personal communication – “Once upon a time…”, November 1, 2009, p. 2).
The passage above is unique in that you are able to capture the metamorphoses of what
coaches go through in their season. All the initial hopes and speculations that occur during the first part of the season are often times shattered by the reality of inexperience. Many times what a coach thinks is often times kept in house, but Johnson shares these stories through his poetic expressions. As the creative piece takes the reader further and further into the season, Johnson describes his observations of the “after effect of the initial naming of the starting five and the usual disappointment of players who feel that they should be starting”, and he states that this team was unique in that they did not follow that pattern.
It was noticed that, as on all teams, some individuals were receiving more recognition than others, …obviously to the chagrin of some. Many teams, with promise, lost ground here, being torn up by the dissention of petty rivalries. But, somehow, on this particular team, morale still remained high. The team continued to work, grow and improve (Johnson, personal communication – “Once upon a time…”, November 1, 2009, p. 6).
Johnson not only picks up on the minor details of individual attitudes concerning playing
time, but he ingeniously discusses the effects of losing on both his team and his own self.
As time went by, and the length of the long season began to set in, some teams began to lose their focus and did not concentrate on the important “small” things in practice. Surprisingly, [this] team began losing games by close margins and could not understand why. But, somehow, this particular team was able to maintain its attention and concentration and continued to grow and improve. It was an amazing thing to behold, this one team, more than any other, READY for each game. And Life was fatiguing, but rewarding (Johnson, personal communication – “Once upon time…”, November 1, 2009, p. 11).
Johnson continues his poetic story with more trials and tribulations as he explains in the following:
It probably cannot be argued that most teams, possibly all teams, have one or more areas in which, as a team, they appear weak. Whether it be in terms of speed, shooting, ball handling, strength, boards, or what have you. It naturally behooves these teams to recognize the areas of concern and then to do something each day about them (Johnson, personal communication – “Once upon a time…”, November 1, 2009, p. 12).
He describes all the intricacies that go into a coach’s psyche as they lead their teams through adversity. Johnson concludes his story with his final thoughts in which he states that he did not finish writing this story from the end of the season perspective but somewhere in the final games of his conference season.
As of this writing, it is not known exactly how this particular team fared. All we know for sure is that for five months it got along, it played the game tough, it played together, it overcame it’s weak areas, it commanded respect. And do you know this team…?
YOU HAVE READ the story of a team that pulled together. NOW PLEASE READ…The lesson it had to learn (Johnson, personal communication – “Once upon a time…”, November 1, 2009, p. 12).
Despite Johnson’s message of the team getting along, overcoming its weaknesses, and working through adversity, he concludes his paper with the message that sometimes you have to just be a little lucky in the end. After the completion of the 1972 – 1973 season, Johnson stated that he knew that coaching was the right profession but that he had to change the way in which he dealt with losing. The team that he spoke about in “Once upon a time…” can be credited for his renewed spirits for the profession. The team gave him the courage to want to coach again and it was this courage that got him through the next 20 years at Cypress, where he would finish out his career as the winningest coach in California Community College history.
TOUGH, SMART, UNSELFISH
When I asked Johnson to describe his teams at Cypress College after his return, he said, “The best thing to ever happen to me at Cypress after I returned was hiring Jack Long as an assistant, and developing the concept of Tough, Smart, Unselfish (TSU), as the motto for all my teams” (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 1, 2009).
Johnson hired Jack Long for the 1973 – 1974 season. Johnson describes Long as a 5”2”, “ball of furry”, who’s main attention was to get enough talent each year to win the whole thing (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 2, 2009). That was exactly what Long did and continued to do during his time at Cypress College. He was responsible for the recruitment of former National Basketball Association (NBA) star, Mark Eaton, who played for Cypress in 1978 – 1980, winning a State Championship his sophomore year. Johnson made it very clear that without Long’s help, he would not have had as much success.
After the hiring of Long, Johnson was able to concentrate on developing more of a family tradition at Cypress College and he initiated this idea with the implementation of TSU. The idea of TSU came from Johnson’s reflection of what made his former player, John Moore, who now currently coaches for Westmont University, such a unique player. Johnson stated that Moore was a walk on point guard, who was very little but was one of the toughest, nastiest, caring student-athletes he had ever coached. He stated that if he could recruit athletes that had the three areas that Moore displayed, Tough, Smart, and Unselfish, that his success and sanity would be in a much better state. TSU became the motto for which all of his student-athletes tried to pursue. He mentions, “It is rare to come across athletes who possess all three characteristics. A lot of times you will get guys that have two of the three words, but not all three. I think there are only a few of those types of people out there that contain TSU” (D.K. Johnson, personal communication, November 1, 2009).
Johnson continued coaching with Long for almost two decades when in 1994 both Johnson and Long decided to walk away from something they so dearly loved. They left behind a program, which earned seven conference championships, four final four appearances, and two state championships, over 50 student-athletes moving onto the next level, 20 former players coaching at either the high school or college level, and only four academically ineligible student-athletes in 27 years of coaching. After retiring from Cypress College, Johnson continued teaching part time at Cypress but eventually retired all together in 1996. In 1997, one of his former players, Dr. David Holmquist, hired Johnson to be an assistant coach at Biola University. Coach Johnson has been there for 12 years and loves every minute of it.
Legacy beyond Cypress
The personal life and legacy of Donald K. Johnson exceeds his professional contribution to physical education and sports. While his job assignments were as an educator and coach, Johnson’s true legacy lays in his commitment to serving those he loved, his wife, his family, his players, and his career. The following is a recap of some the outstanding qualities and accomplishments that he was able to accomplish in his career:
CIF Player of the Year at El Monte High School.
An All-State performer under his mentor Alex Omalev at his beloved Fullerton Community College.
An All-American standout player under legendary Head Coach John Wooden at UCLA.
A successful teacher at El Monte High School. He led the boy’s basketball team to 6 of 11 CIF playoff appearances.
A tenured professor of Physical Education at Cypress Community College.
A head coach at Cypress Community College who led his team to 2 state championships, 4 final four appearances, 7 conference championships, and is considered today as the “Winningest Coach in California Community College” history.
A loving husband who talked about valuing his relationship with Collette as being more important than his career.
A thoughtful man whose love for education and knowledge summarized his success in his life.
The loving father of Debra, Russell, and Cindy and a dedicated grandfather of Brittany, Dustin, and Blake of whom he greatly adores.
Donald K. Johnson’ s legacy is most appropriately viewed in light of his commitment to his wife, family, friends, players, and fellow colleagues. His motto of TSU will forever be a template for all those who are involved in sports as a tool for the betterment of today’s student-athletes.
Coaching Well Game Builders Interview with Alex Omalev. Retrieved October 26, 2009, from
Jimenez, T. (2003, July). JUCO Coaching Report. National Association of Basketball Coaches
(NABC). Retrieved October 25, 2009, from
Men's basketball media guide (2008-09). Retrieved October 28, 2009, from
Nabill, S. Polycythemia (Elevated Red Blood Cell Count). Retrieved October 29, 2009, from
Personal communication, Donald Johnson, November 1, 2009.
Personal communication, Donald Johnson, November 2, 2009.
Walton, B. (2004, February). What a long, strange trip it’s been, Swen. Retrieved October 25,
Born: July 28, 1930 –
Birthplace: Hollywood, California.
1944 to 1948 - Diploma, El Monte High School
1948 to 1950 – A.A., Fullerton Community College
1950 to 1952 - B.A., Physical Education, University of California Los Angeles
1954 to 1956 - M.S., Education, University of California Los Angeles
1997 - Present – Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at Biola University (Head Coach – Dr. David Holmquist, former player for Don at Cypress College).
1966-1995 – Full-time Professor of Physical Education and Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Cypress Community College, North Orange County Community College District.
1954-1966 – High School Teacher (Biology, History, English, and Physical Education) and Head Boy’s Basketball Coach at El Monte High School, El Monte Union High School District.
Athletic Honors and Awards:
Will be inducted into the Fullerton Community College Sports Hall of Fame, May 2010.
Inducted into the El Monte Sports Hall of Fame, 1995.
Helms All-American Award, 1952.
Caddy Works Award for competitive spirit, inspiration, unselfish contribution to the team, 1951.
1st Recipient of the Art Nunn Award – Athlete of the Year (Fullerton College), 1951.
Athlete of the Year (El Monte High School), 1947.
Coaching Honors and Awards:
Cypress College gymnasium dedicated his name – “Don Johnson Court,” 2009.
Inducted into the Orange County Hall of Fame, 1996.
Retired at Cypress College as the “Winningest Basketball Coach in California History,” 1994.
Two State Championships with Cypress College, 1976 - 1977 & 1979 - 1980.
Made CIF High School Playoffs six of eleven years, 1954- 1966.