Mt. Vernon’s Johnston Southwest Athletic Director of the Year

Steve Chapman

 Mt. Vernon High School Athletic Director and Assistant Principal Chris Johnston has been named the Southwest Athletic Director of the Year.


Local AD earns top vote from 103 schools in region
Mt. Vernon School District’s Chris Johnston has been named the 2022-23 Athletic Director of the Year for the Southwest District of the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA). He will formally receive the award during the MIAAA Spring Athletic Directors Conference, to be held at Tan-Tar-A, from March 31 through April 4. He is also in the running to be named the State Athletic Director of the Year.

Johnston has a wide array of duties
Johnston, who is a Mt. Vernon alum, has been both athletic director and assistant principal at Mt. Vernon High School for nine years. As the school’s athletic director, he is in charge of all high school athletics and other extracurricular activities.
“I oversee all athletics and activities, so all sports and also things such as band and music and speech and debate,” he said. “As far as the athletic side of it goes, I do everything from hiring coaches, or assisting with hiring coaches, and scheduling and taking care of all events that happen here, whether it's a basketball tournament or a district tournament, anything like that. And I work on eligibility if we have a transfer student; I take care of that as far as them becoming eligible as an athlete here.”

Johnston helped bring about upgrades to gymnasium, create CLIMB Academy
During his time as athletic director, Johnston said there have been some upgrades to the school’s athletic facilities of which he is very proud.
“Since I've been athletic director,” he said, “we've been able to do a lot of upgrades to our gymnasium. We've been able to put in new bleachers, repaint the floor, (and) we've got our banner system there. We've (also) got new scoreboards in our gym.”
Another development that Johnston is proud of is the CLIMB Academy, a “character and leadership program” he created with the district’s coaches and other directors.
“(We) started it last spring,” he said, “and we just allow our athletes and those involved in MSHSAA-sponsored activities to come into school. With last spring, we did it early in the morning, and we just talked about character development, leadership, teamwork things like that. This year, we're doing it during our EXCEL time … and every other Wednesday, one of the coaches or myself talks about one of those topics.”

Service extends beyond MVHS
Johnston was also president of the Big 8 Conference (which went from eight to 14 teams about two years ago) during the pandemic era, and as such, juggled several responsibilities there.
“I was the president over all the athletic directors from our 14 schools for two years,” he said, “just running meetings, organizing meetings things like that. And we had to navigate through COVID during that time … and that was a tough deal, because we had to reschedule games and (develop) new policies and procedures but I feel like we made it through as best we could in that situation.”

Johnston says award doesn’t celebrate only him
Johnston was named the Southwest Athletic Director of the Year based on a vote by the athletic directors from the 103 schools in the region. It was very gratifying, he said, to know that his peers hold him in such high esteem. However, he said the credit goes to more people than just him.
“I would say one of the best things about this award is that it's not just for me as an athletic director,” he said, “because we have so many coaches, head coaches and assistant coaches, and we have so many directors, like our band director, choir director, our sponsors that do speech and debate and things like that. They do a great job and make our students successful here at Mt. Vernon. And that makes my job easy, because they take care of their particular activity, or their department, or their sport, and it helps me to do my job.”


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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