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Episode #14: Bill Johnson

October 26, 2020

40:01 minutes


You may be surprised to learn that most elite coaches never plan on coaching. They get pulled into the profession by accident, through a serendipitous event or by happenstance. Bill Johnson was pulled into coaching wheelchair basketball because he played the sport with his brother. His brother had a disability, Bill did not. Able bodied people can play wheelchair basketball with teammates who have disability. When his brother moved away to play in the NCAA, Bill was approached by a women’s wheelchair basketball team to just sit in the gym while they played – a person who could simply be present in the gym was required a part of the contract. As he sat there while the athletes played, he realized that the team needed help, so Bill offered to write out some drills for them and suddenly a year later he was at nationals coaching a women’s provincial wheelchair basketball team.

Bill would go on to coach at several Paralympic Games and World Championships with junior teams and both the men’s and women’s national teams. In 2014 he was the head coach of the team that won the Women’s World Championship. His success is due certainly to his understanding of the game and his willingness to never stop learning (early in his career he travelled all over Canada and the US to learn from the best coaches – all on his own time and only for the purpose of expanding his knowledge). Now retired from national team coaching, he is the Executive Director of Football Manitoba and volunteers extensively on volunteer boards, with his children’s sport programs and with animal fostering programs.

Bill’s story is as incredible as his quiet heroism. We hope you enjoy our conversation with Bill Johnson.

“That’s what sport is about. You love the game but more importantly, you love the people you’re with.”