By Brandon Perry, Athletic Director
I certainly can talk about many of the positive things that took place at Johnson this year. Our softball team had a historic season with 22 wins and 17 wins in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC). The Johnson tennis teams each completed their best seasons in school history. The average GPA of a Johnson student-athlete was 3.21, which is certainly worth celebrating! However, I just completed my fifth year as the athletic director at Johnson, and I think this is a good opportunity to write something a little different and maybe a little more personal, and to remind our supporters of who we are.
Lots of things have changed over the last five years. The completion of the Athletic and Recreation Complex and the Graham Center certainly was the biggest shift, and it spurred on several other changes. The move to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the AAC has been a major change. We have nearly doubled the number of student-athletes on campus and our teams continue to adjust to this new conference and experience greater success.
As I reflect on these changes, I am reminded that the success of the Athletic Department is not just about the changes of the last five years. People who came before me, such as Ken Underwood, Doug Karnes, Anyssa Blackburn, and Russell Morgan, all laid a groundwork that makes this possible today. They set a tone of doing athletics the right way. They put student-athletes and their experience first. They prioritized human development over wins and losses. There are so many other former athletic administrators, coaches, and student-athletes I could name who put in so much work and dedication. While Johnson Athletics looks different today, the principle of kingdom-minded leadership remains the same.
As we transitioned to NAIA in the 2021-2022 season, I told anyone who would listen that this is a building project. Johnson Athletics was always a five-to-ten-year project. We have always viewed the 2026-2027 season as the standard in who we are. I believe we are way ahead of schedule, and Johnson Athletics is becoming something special. People are taking notice of our program in Knoxville and throughout Tennessee. We are seeing quality athletes come to the University and they are thriving in this environment. We are seeing quality athletes graduate and begin careers as mission-minded employees in a variety of fields. We have made great strides, but we are not done. We know that building a successful athletic program increases our ability to impact the world for the cause of Christ as athletes are transformed by a positive athletic and educational experience. We are continuing with a building mindset, and I have no doubt the next five years will hold more amazing moments.