WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Beloved MSU Women’s Basketball head coach Noel Johnson had her celebration of life Saturday at the D.L. Ligon Coliseum.
Competitive, sincere, genuine. Those are just a few of the words that coaches and players used to describe Coach Johnson. Although it is a day of mourning, it is also a day to honor her beautiful spirit.
“She even went back to coaching striving the face of chronic pain to teach, to lead, to inspire. Noel never complained, never asked ‘Why me’. It was always ‘we’re going to do it, whatever it takes,” former First Christian Church senior pastor David Hartman said.
Coach: a person who trains an athlete or a team of athletes. And with Midwestern State’s Noel Johnson, that training always went beyond the basketball court.
“I don’t even know how to describe it,” Johnson’s former player Skyler Warrick said. “We just cherished it so much and we cherished her and our time with her because she was just so passionate and involved with each and every one of you. She would literally drop everything she was doing to give you 110% of herself to you.”
“She had a little bit of humor about her but when it got time to be serious, she was going to make sure that she did everything she possibly could to make her team win,” Johnson’s former coach at Texas Tech Marsha Sharp said.” I loved all those qualities. And honestly, they are the same qualities I watched her the last 14 months try to fight through this unbelievable journey she’s been on. I think most people will tell you that you know those are qualities that you loved about her.”
She is the winningest coach in program history; leading the Lady Mustangs to a Lone Star Conference regular-season and tournament championship in 2013. Johnson was also a Division 1 national champion in 1993 as a player with the Texas Tech Lady Raiders.
But her proudest achievement was the relationships she built with teammates and those who played for her.
“Her genuineness and loyalty. Man, she was so loyal. But the list just goes on and on. I’ve never met anybody that didn’t love her and I think that speaks volumes,” former teammate Krista Gerlich said.
“She’s just with you. She’s taught all of us so much about how to be women, how to be a better person. And those moments are something that come across every day. And how we are as people, our character, how we carry forward from now on her legacy will live on inside of all of us,” Warrick said.
From watching the ceremony and seeing how many people attended, it was evident that coach Noel Johnson truly touched and inspired every soul she met.