Freddy Johnson 2016
Freddy Johnson, a Greensboro native, has spent his entire basketball coaching career at Greensboro Day School. Graduating from Grimsley High School in 1972 and Greensboro College in 1977, he furthered his education with a Master’s degree from North Carolina A&T State University in 1984. Johnson played basketball on the collegiate level for two years at Greensboro College, where he realized he wanted to coach basketball, gaining valuable experience for his life’s work coaching YMCA basketball teams.
Just out of Greensboro College, Johnson began volunteering with the Greensboro Day School basketball squad, and he was soon appointed head boys’ varsity basketball coach at the relatively young independent school. One year later, he also became the athletics director. During his 39 years at GDS, the athletic program has grown to include more than 40 teams and 85 percent middle and upper school student participation. There have also been 154 conference and 40 state championship teams during his tenure as athletics director.
As of this past season’s end, Johnson has compiled an overall record of 958-279 – he’s won more than 77 percent of his games) – and is the winningest coach in North Carolina high school basketball history. He has led the Bengals to a record 14 tournament championships at the HAECO Invitational, a premier tournament showcasing local high school teams in Guilford County. He has coached teams to eight state championships in the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association (NCISAA) and was a finalist eight other times.
Additionally, his teams have won 24 championships in the Piedmont Athletic Conference of Independent Schools (PACIS), and Johnson has been the PACIS Conference Coach of the Year 21 times. In 2015, he led the Bengals to the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School National Invitational Tournament in New York City and was named the USA Today North Carolina Coach of the Year.
Johnson’s success at GDS has led to his selection as a coach in six all-star games, including the 2013 McDonald’s All-America Game in Chicago and the 1997 Capital Classic All-Star Game in Washington, D.C.
He has been enshrined into the N.C. Gaters Hall of Fame (2006), Greensboro College Athletic Hall of Fame (2009) and Guilford County Sports Hall of Fame (2011), as well as being awarded the Charles N. Carter NCISAA Athletic Director Cup (2015) and the Greensboro College Alumni Excellence Award (2008).
A former player recently wrote, “The impact that you (Freddy Johnson) have had on my life and many other young men looms large. I wanted to let you know that your influence affected the direction of my life – in a very positive fashion. I think what I value most about our time together was that I was able to apply the principles that I learned from you in life itself, outside of athletics. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the hard work and teamwork you instilled in me would be something I would be able to use later in many life situations.”
Johnson and his wife, Mary Marr Dillard, have two children, Robert and Katherine, and one grandson.