David “DJ” Johnson
David Johnson (“DJ”) has been involved with youth development for more than 25 years. His experiences with working with youth comes from his understanding of what motivates them to want to be successful with their aspirations. “DJ” received his Bachelor of Science degree at Augustana College, SD in 1985 and a Masters in Sports Management in 1992 from the United States Sports Academy in Daphne, Alabama.
Born and raised in Columbia, MO. DJ learned the trials and tribulations of being a youth in Columbia and seeing many of his peers taking the wrong path and getting into what he calls a “rut” of not growing mentally and physically to succeed in life.
In 1980 DJ graduated from Hickman High School after having a successful senior year which he received All-District honors and was the top senior performer of that team. He decided in 1981 that he needed to leave Columbia and attended Fergus Falls Community College in Minnesota. During his two years there DJ focused on his academics and athletic abilities. In 1983 he was Name First Team Junior College All-American while averaging 30 points a game and guided Fergus Falls to its first state championship game. He received many Division I & II college scholarship offers and chose to attend Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD. DJ was inducted into the Fergus Falls Hall of Fame in 1992.
From 1983 to 1985 DJ led Augustana College in scoring and field goal percentage during his two years there. He earned First Team All Conference honors in the former North Central Conference (NCC), First Team All-Region honors. Upon graduating Augustana DJ was in the Top 10 for all time career points (over 1200) while only playing two seasons there. DJ is listed on Auguies top 10 all-time single season scoring averages (21.9 ppg & 21.0 ppg) He was inducted into the Augustana College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997. He was the first two year player to ever receive that distinct honor.
Professional Basketball Career
Upon graduating from Augustana he received a contract to play professional basketball in Australia from 1985-1990. As a professional basketball player Johnson led the South Eastern Basketball League (SEABL) and Victorian Basketball League (VBA) in scoring every year that he played there. He posted back-to-back 50 points per game season and averaged a career scoring average of 44 ppg during his time in Australia. His Bendigo Braves team made three (3) consecutive final fours and he helped capture the SEABL National Championship in 1988 by scoring a record 70 points and earning MVP honors. Johnson was also a VBA MVP, First team All-Star SEABL & VBA every year he played.
Coach Johnson returned to his alma mater Hickman High School in 2009 to 2016. During that time he guided the Kewpies to two (2) State Tournaments. In 2013 the captured 3rd Place in the state and 2014 lost in Over-time in the State Championship game vs CBC. His kewpies camptured 2 district championships, 2 Sectionals & quarter-finals championship. In 2014 DJ was selected as the Coach of the Year in Class 5A in the State of Missouri, District Coach of the Year and the Columbia Daily Tribune Area Coach of the Year. At Hickman he has 143-82 win/loss record.
In 1990, DJ returned to the United States and began his coaching career at Brainerd Community College, Brainerd Minnesota. In his first year he took the Brainerd Raiders to the Minnesota Community Colleges State Tournament Final Four. The first time in 13 years the college qualified for a state tournament. During his three years at Brainerd DJ help guide the Raiders to two State Tournament appearances and a overall record of 40-35.
The summer of 1993 DJ was selected to be the next coach at Hickman High School his alma mater. This was his dream job and he was excited about the opportunity to coach back home. In his first season he guided the Kewpies to a 16-8 record and during his two years at Hickman he had a 28-22 record. The college game began to call back and in the summer of 1995 he accepted the Athletic Director’s job at St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, VA. St.Paul’s was a NCAA Division II college that competed in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) conference. Regarded as one of the top Division II conferences in the country. With the likes of Virginia Union, Virginia State, Elizabeth City, Bowie, Norfolk, Hampton, Shaw, Winston-Salem, North Carolina Central, Johnson C. Smith and Fayetteville he saw some of the best talent of basketball compete on a daily basis. During his college coaching career DJ has helped place many young men overseas to continue their basketball careers. He assisted Lance Harris former K-State star with playing in Europe, Kim English former Mizzou with Europe, Keith Hassesquist, Kevin Catron, Ron Nunnely, Terrell Turner with their basketball opportunities in Australia. Coach Johnson serves as talent evlauator for the Bendigo Braves and Broadmeadow Bronoco’s in Victoria, Australia.
He enjoyed his stint in Virginia but Columbia, Missouri kept calling and in 1997 DJ came back and was named the Executive Director of the newly developed Boys & Girls Clubs of the Columbia Area (BGCA). DJ was instrumental in starting and developing the BGCA and directed the organization over four years which it served over 1000’s of youth in the Central Missouri area. He provided after-school programs for kindergarten to high schoolers and conducted special events that brought in celebrities such as track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee, NFL players Mike Jones, Torry Holt, NBA Demarre Carol and many other TV and professional celebrities (actor Jack Wagner). One of his greatest memories was meeting Oscar winning actor Denzel Washington.
In the year of 2000 DJ established his own youth organization, Midwest Sports Challenge (MSC). Going into its 15th year MSC has provided activities for thousands of youth in the Columbia and Central Missouri areas, with basketball being the strongest program. It has helped guide many youth (boys & girls) to learn, grow and have the opportunity to compete and play for middle school, high school and collegiate basketball. In 2002 DJ established the Columbia Orange Basketball Program that competed at the AAU, Show Me State Games and MAYB levels. During the Columbia Orange 10-year run Coach DJ’s teams won over 90% of their games, were National Qualifiers for both AAU & MAYB tournaments, won numerous Show Me State Games with Gold, Bronze and Silver medals. More importantly, MSC has been a spring board for youth development and has assisted with helping youngsters to aspire to achieve their academic and athletic goals.
Today, DJ is currently in his second stint back as the Head Basketball Coach at Hickman High School. Going into his 5th season at Hickman he has helped guide Hickman to two Final Fours (2013-3rd Place & 2014-2nd Place finishes) and two District Championships. He has been awarded with many honors during the past 30 years as a Player (MVP’s, All-American, All Region, All-Star), Coach (Missouri Basketball Coaches Associations Coach of the Year, District Coach of the Year, Tribune All-Area Coach of the Year twice), and Administrator (Bendigo Basketball Association, NAACP Entrepreneur and many other youth honors by schools and community organizations).
He has helped hundreds of student-athletes secure scholarships to continue their academic and athletic aspirations. He has helped organized Australian professionals teams tours against College teams throughout the United States against Division I, II, NAIA & JUCO colleges over the past 20 years. He has helped place Australian players with colleges in the Midwest Area and continues to provide his services. He is involved with many community service groups to help support youth programs in the community and is a member of the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association and has been a Partner In Education with Columbia Public Schools for 15 years. He resides in Columbia with his wife Carla, daughter Caitlyn, and son Douglas who are Hickman Kewpie graduates!