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Johnson moves into dual roles at Providence

Douglas Fritz • Jun 3, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Whether it was battling for a state championship in high school, taking on the Division I level in college, or playing professionally overseas, Damon Johnson has never shied away from basketball challenges.

So it shouldn’t be a big surprise to see the coaching challenge he recently accepted. The boys’ head coach at Providence Academy will also be the girls’ head coach this coming season.

“I felt like it was something that would be good for me and the school, to try to help build both programs at the same time,” said Johnson.

There is plenty of experience on Johnson’s resume. He played at Science Hill under legendary coach George Pitts, and eventually moved on to play at the University of Tennessee. While playing overseas, Johnson got bit by the coaching bug.

“I started overseas coaching a girls team,” he said. “I kind of felt like it was a different side of the game. With girls, it’s more about Xs and Os.”

As far as the logistics of coaching two teams at once, Johnson said it will be a learn-as-you-go situation.

“We will have to navigate our way through it,” he said. “Great assistant coaches will be a huge factor. I plan to put people in place to help me.”

Pitts, who is Providence Academy’s new athletic director, said he believes Johnson will do well in the dual roles.

“He wants to do it,” said Pitts. “We’re going to try it and see how it goes. If it turns out it’s too much, we may have to make an adjustment down the road. But I think he can do it. I am excited about it, and I think he will do great.”

Johnson had his players in the gym Monday for the first time under the new COVID-19 guidelines. He said the overall atmosphere is exciting.

“There’s a buzz going on at Providence Academy,” Johnson said.

Johnson said adding Pitts to the mix will make a difference.

“He solidifies the movement we’re making in athletics,” said Johnson. “It’s not the priority — God is first, then academics, then athletics — but George is helping us do that. He’s a basketball guru.”