Retired Stillwater boys’ soccer coach Phil Johnson was inducted into the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association Hall of Fame as part of the group’s Annual Recognition Banquet on Nov. 2 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Former MYSA President Ellie Singer joined Johnson in this year’s class, bringing the total to 22 inductees in the Hall of Fame since its creation in 1996.
“It’s an honor to receive this. I am very honored,” Johnson said.
As head coach for the Ponies, Johnson compiled a 451-156-64 record in 32 seasons with 17 conference titles and 16 section championships — winning back-to-back state titles in 1995 and 1996. He is already a member of the Minnesota State High School Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame and his affiliation with MYSA goes back to 1985.
“I came in at a good time and it didn’t take me long to connect with those involved with the great challenge of developing soccer,” Johnson said. “My contributions with the youth soccer associations has been coaching coaches.”
Johnson, who was also a recipient of the Tony Sanneh Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, taught elementary school in the Stillwater school district for 32 years and that background has blended perfectly with his efforts with MYSA.
“I found a niche after I did the lincenses and my clients are usually coaches of 6- and 7-year olds who are just joining and have little understanding,” Johnson said. “It’s child development is basically what it is. I love working with little kids and their parents. I wouldn’t have a zeal to do this if it wasn’t for the teaching opportunities I had at Stonebridge (Elementary). With the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association you’ll notice the word youth appears before the word soccer. Soccer is just the tool. This is about teaching the youth and helping them with life skills and oh, by the way, we get to do it with the game we love to play and go out and do.”
Even while turning the Ponies into one of the top programs in the state, Johnson has always been willing to share his winning formula with soccer clubs and coaches from across the state and beyond.
“For me the mission has been developing the art of coaching and sharing the art of coaching,” Johnson said. “Coaching is teaching and that’s been imbedded in me so it’s how can I share that? I get a chance to tell stories and share challenges with people in Rochester, Duluth, Crookston and Moorhead. They have their individual problems or issues and I’m their cheerleader.”
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