Chad Johnson, MA '16, a self-described “hometown kid” from Orange County, is taking the helm of one of the biggest and best high school football programs in the nation at Mission Viejo High School. Johnson comes equipped with his Master's in Coaching & Athletics Administration (MCAA) degree from Concordia University Irvine, which he says helped change his view of coaching.
Mission Viejo is a perennial powerhouse whose players—like former New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez—often go on to the National Football League and to NCAA Division I schools. Johnson, too, played football locally, in the same school district as Mission Viejo, then at Hofstra University with coaches like Dan Quinn who later coached the Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl.
Seeing his own father’s dedication and work ethic as a basketball coach inspired Johnson to try coaching. He served as offensive coordinator at Trabuco Hills High School and St. John Bosco High School for a combined sixteen years. His teams were regularly ranked #1 in the country at some point during the season, and Bosco won four Trinity League championships, two CIF titles, two state championships and one national championship. The school's principal called Johnson "a brilliant football mind."
In my classes, we learned how to be more transformational instead of transactional in our coaching ... It's not about winning at all costs.
Johnson now follows the winning-est coach in Orange County history at Mission Viejo — and believes his experience at Concordia will help him fill those shoes.
“The biggest thing I took from my classes is the question they asked one day: What does it feel to be coached by you?” he says. “That’s a question I still reflect on. Every day I try to be a better version of myself. As a coach you want to make sure you’re giving kids every opportunity to be successful. We work hard to call the right plays, the right schemes, the right coverages.”
Johnson learned about CUI’s Master of Arts in Coaching and Athletics Administration degree from a fellow coach more than 15 years ago.
“I heard so many great things about it,” Johnson says. “Both of my parents had masters’ degrees. My wife and I both have master’s degrees. We want that expectation of our kids, too. I also wanted to have credentials down the road that would allow me to look into other career opportunities, like athletic director.”
He appreciated the strong foundation he received at Concordia in multiple subjects, from strength and conditioning to technology to the legal aspects of athletics programs. Another standout experience was attending an athletic director summit with his cohort in San Diego.
“I thought that was good for everyone because we were with the big-time athletic directors in the state of California, networking, talking, learning,” he says. “They were presenting ideas to take back to our schools. It was one of the better weekends I spent learning. It was awesome.”
At Mission Viejo, he is most excited about building on the strong track record of success he inherits.
“There’s a ton of tradition here and we’re trying to keep that and bring in some new ideas,” he says. “It’s going really well.”
His MCAA degree improved his overall attention to detail, the “meticulous grind of making sure you’re on top of everything” involved in leading a top-ranked high school football program.
“The degree gave us a snapshot of what it takes to be a good head coach,” Johnson says. “After that, I know I’m ready to do it and have the tools necessary to do it well.”
Up next: implementing the transformational coaching he learned at Concordia in an environment of familiar faces.
“I’m surrounded by coaches I either coached or played for,” Johnson says. “It’s like a tight-knit family atmosphere. I enjoy the camaraderie and watching kids develop mentally, physically and socially. Our job is to get every kid to reach their full potential.”