men's tennis team prays together

The 2021-22 season was one of firsts for Johnson Athletics. It was the first year as part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the first as a member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC). The Royals competed well throughout the year. They did so with class and integrity and truly demonstrated Royal Pride.

The year was not only measured by what happened during games. First, was a tremendous academic year for the Royals. The 2021-2022 year featured the highest Athletic Department GPA in athletic director Brandon Perry’s five-year tenure. The department boasted a 3.33 overall GPA with more than 70% of student athletes achieving a 3.0 GPA or higher.

“A 3.33 GPA is tremendous, and I can’t state how proud I am of our teams,” Perry says. “Being a student-athlete is tough. Our players have hard schedules and spend way too much time on the road–and yet they continue to work hard in the classroom. This just speaks to the types of players we have at Johnson.”

Second was our coaching staff’s best recruiting year yet. In each of the last five years the athletic department has reached a new recruiting level. The 2021-22 season featured 78 new student-athletes. The 2022-23 season kicks off with 115 new student-athletes and 209 total Royals competing in nine sports. Our coaching staff has answered the call to find quality student-athletes who are mission-aligned and can forge a new path competing in the NAIA and the AAC. These eight coaches and their assistants have made a huge impact on the lives of these students and our University.

“I can’t say enough about our coaches,” said Perry. “They love our kids, and they work hard to bring in great ones. I wish our University supporters could get to know each of them personally. They love Christ and show it every day, and they work so hard. The pandemic was hard on the recruiting front. But our coaches fought through it and it did a real service for our University.”

Finally, the 2021-22 season ended with a huge award. Johnson University is a Gold Star NAIA institution in the Champions of Character program. Champions of Character is an initiative established by the NAIA that measures character training, conduct in competition, academic focus, character recognition, and character promotion.

“Becoming a Gold Star program was a personal goal of mine, and coach Dayna Carter really stepped up to lead this effort,” said Perry. “Champions of Character represents many of the things we are about here at Johnson, and it was only natural that we jumped into this program. Our players were so committed to getting involved in the community.”

Johnson Athletics believes the 2022-23 season holds even more promise. “I have no doubt we are getting better as a program. We are competing more and seem to be getting hungrier every day. I know our drive to give to our community and serve people is there. I am excited about what God has in store for these players,” Perry said.