From the Bench: Rick Johnson's Lengthy Coaching Resume as Swim Coach Adds New Collegiate Twist

By Jeff Toquinto on February 11, 2024 from Sports Blog via

Bridgeport’s Ricky Johnson has been involved in coaching for just about as long as he can remember. Whether it has been youth sports, traveling teams, units of various ages, and even a collegiate program, Johnson has served as a coach.
Up until recently, the coaching was always in swimming. In fact, you can count hundreds, perhaps thousands of youths and even adults, who call Johnson coach because of the positive impact he made.
Now, there will be a new group of athletes who will be calling Johnson coach. And you may be surprised to know it is from a sport that Ricky Johnson actually loves more than swimming.
For those that don’t already know, Johnson is the new coach of the men’s and women’s golf teams at Fairmont State University. Not only is Johnson coaching for the first time in the sport, but he is returning to his Alma Mater to do so. Johnson graduated from Fairmont State in 1998 with a business degree.
“I didn’t know if I would be coaching golf, but there was always a part of me that wanted to go back to Fairmont and be involved so this opportunity is a huge blessing,” said Johnson, 1993 Bridgeport High School graduate. “The program is rich with history and a lot of good players have come through the program, and I hope to be responsible for putting through a lot more.”
While some may find it ironic that Johnson’s first golf coaching gig comes at the college level, you probably should not. Chances are good for the last few decades if he is not by the pool coaching, he is on the golf course. It has been that way for most of his life, including teaching his daughter Marra both sports well enough that she is now competing in both in college. Whether it is a casual round with friends or a charity event where you can count on Johnson to set the fashion bar too high for anyone to reach, Johnson is a diehard on the links.
Two things point toward that. Along with his regular golfing, Johnson had a tenure of a few years serving as a caddy at Augusta National – not too shabby. And recently, he worked for the West Virginia Golf Association as its tournament director.
Now, the lifelong Bridgeport resident plans to combine his golfing and coaching knowledge on the campus in Marion County. The goal is to find success.
“We’re a little bit in rebuild mode, but the men’s team is in the top eight in our region,” said Johnson. “… We’ve got a young group. We have seven freshmen on the men’s roster and four coming in for the women’s team.”
Johnson will not have to go it alone in his first dive into coaching golf. He will be able to lean on former Coach Sarah Yost.
“Sarah is still going to be involved in player development,” said Johnson, who said he talked Yost into the roles she’s assuming. “What a benefit to have her on the staff. She was coach here for about a decade, she’s still a pro at the Fairmont Field Club, and has been a pro for about 16 years now. She knows golf.”
Johnson, Yost, and the golf program will see just how much they know, and just how good they are, in the game of golf shortly. The team has already started practicing and Johnson said the first match is set for early March at the Brunswick Plantation Golf Course in Calabash, N.C.
Although already coaching, the first match is when it gets real. However, decades of coaching swimming have taken the edge off of that. In fact, he is still coaching that sport as well.
With so many years of coaching swimming to his credit, including starting up a defunct program at Salem International University here in Harrison County, one may wonder why he is taking up another coaching opportunity – even if it is in his favorite sport.
“I think part of it is because golf, like swimming, is considered a second sport to some. You see that in coaching because there is not aways a lot of stability. I played football, basketball, baseball, and golf in high school and your coaches were always there,” said Johnson, who is married to 1995 BHS graduate Dee Corder. “There is a lot of turnover and kids need consistency in these sports as well. But there are other more important reasons I took this job.
“My passion has always been golf and coaching in general and this combines them,” Johnson continued. “The main thing is I love working with kids and watching them develop. Most work for a paycheck, but I’m working for the rewards. The reward is seeing a kid do something they didn’t realize they were able to do and then to see that spontaneous smile on their face. You can’t get that in anything but coaching.”
Here is to hoping Ricky Johnson sees a whole lot of smiles this year with the student-athletes in Fairmont State’s golf program. Good luck Coach Johnson.
Editor's Note: Top photo is a portrait shot of Ricky Johnson, while he's shown with wife Dee, left, and daughter Marra in the second photo. In the third image, he is shown doing some work on the Augusta National Course. Bottom photo shows Ricky and Marra and a father-daughter golf tournament. All photos courtesy of the Johnson family.

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