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Tim Johnston reminisces after 38 years in educational athletics

East Grand Rapids AD retiring at season's end
Tim Johnston and his wife, Lori
Posted at 7:04 PM, May 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-16 23:02:11-04

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — After 38 years of educational athletics, Tim Johnston is calling it a career.

Johnston was hired as a football coach and teacher at Grand Rapids Catholic Central back in 1983 and ten years later, accepted the athletic director position at Hastings high school.

Tim Johnston retiring after 38 years

More recently, he has served as the athletic director at East Grand Rapids.

"It's kind of surreal to be honest with you," Johnston said, "it's one of those things that you hope you've had an opportunity to do some good things."

Johnston will retire next to his wife Lori who has served as a high school counselor for 33 years next to him.

"My wife Lori and I have been in high schools now for 33 years together," he added, "maybe it's time to do something maybe a little bit different."

Johnston with Nate Milanowski
Tim Johnston (right) pictured with 2021 East Grand Rapids male athlete of the year, Nate Milanowski (left).

Over the past four decades, Johnston says it's the people that have stood out the most.

"I've been lucky, blessed, fortunate and surrounded by great people," he said, "great mentors, great families, great communities and every one of the stops has been quite special."

And he hasn't forgotten where his start came from.

"I go back to 1983 when Jim Galvin hired me to be part of the football program at Catholic Central and Ray McCahill hired me as a teacher. We were fortunate to win a state championship in 1987 and I still keep in contact with some of those kids, it's tough to call them kids because they're over 50-years old now."

East Grand Rapids has the most state championships of any high school in the state of Michigan and the Pioneers have won 19 in Johnston's nine seasons.

Tim Johnston

However, there's a chance they add even more to his resume this spring before it's all said and done.

"I've told our coaches right from the get go that winning is a byproduct of doing the right things, and we've done a lot of right things. Some programs have been so well established you really take a look at our swim program under Butch Briggs and being able to work with him. We've won some titles in lacrosse and we won a volleyball championship in there and we some cross country championships, of course some swim and some tennis. These coaches have put together unbelievable programs, but our kids have really really stepped up and met that challenge."

As for what life looks like for him and his wife after their upcoming retirement, not much will change.

"Our enjoyment is, believe it or not, going to a game, buying a box of popcorn and sitting there and just watching kids play."

Tim Johnston and sons
Tim Johnston with his two sons.

The Johnston's will have a chance to watch their sons, Ryan and Mike continue their lives around athletics as well.

"Our sons are involved in athletics, our son Mike is one of our football coaches at East, he's a varsity football coach and also he's a freshman baseball coach. Our son Ryan is a Grand Rapids police officer and is a football official officiates wrestling so a Friday night will probably still put us in the stands somewhere."