Berea College Athletics: Not just a Team but a Family

soccer“Being a member of the men’s soccer team has been one of the best experiences at Berea College. Our team members are there for each other, encouraging each other to do our best not only on the field but in the class room as well.”

Chase Bates ’16 is a freshman soccer player who highly enjoys being a part of an athletic team at Berea College. Berea’s athletes come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences that form bonds stronger than just being a team member. While there is a diverse range of sports such as men and women’s basketball, swimming, track and field, and soccer there is no football. Many of the sports teams at Berea have competed at the state, conference, regional, national and international level. Not only do our athletes preform on the differing fields but also in the classroom. Berea seeks to recruit student-athletes who will commit themselves to the college’s mission in order to succeed both athletically and academically, enabling athletes to become national champions or receive recognition as All-Americans and Academic All-Americans.

As a current member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC), our athletes demonstrate true spirit of sportsmanship by being champions of character. Berea’s coaches and athletes represent the five core character values of the NAIA which are respect, integrity, responsibility, servant leadership and sportsmanship. With all athletic members participating in values such as these it is difficult to single one particular individual out to recognize.

One person that easily comes to mind is alum Coach Mike Johnson ‘73. When Business Manager for Seabury Center, Ryan Hess ‘98, was asked who should be recognized for outstanding athleticism, Hess responded with, “Coach Johnson because he represents everything that the NAIA stands for. He was an athlete while attending Berea College and now he coaches and teaches at the institution.” While Coach Johnson is turning back to his roots, he is also spreading the joy and knowledge that he has for living an active life.

Mike-JohnsonCoach Johnson is the Associate Professor of Physical Education and Health, is the men and women’s cross country coach and is the men’s track and field coach. He has a B.A. from Berea College ’73, a M.A. from Eastern Kentucky University ’74 and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University ’84. After gaining a doctorate degree, Coach Johnson went on to teach and coach, receiving multiple awards and honors for his outstanding character as a coach, mentor, athlete and teacher. Some of his recognitions are All-American Scholar-Athlete, NAIA All-American, Honorable Mention NAIA All-American, District 32 Coach of the Year 22 times, Area Coach of the Year, KIAC Coach of the Year 8 times and Region XII Coach of the Year 3 times. When asked what inspires him to motivate his athletes Coach Johnson responded with, “The athletic team members inspire me because they motivate each other through bonding as a family. Team members will encourage one another to do good not only on the playing field but in the classroom as well. Seeing the student-athletes act as a family makes coming from and presently being at Berea truly gratifying.”


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Categories: News, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: Coach Mike Johnson, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, Seabury Center, soccer

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.