Beaverton’s Johnston Set to Make State History
BEAVERTON – With a win over Farwell on Wednesday, longtime Beaverton boys basketball coach Roy Johnston will become the winningest boys basketball coach in state history.
A five-decade career has seen Johnston transfer the small-town Class C school into a powerhouse, and with his team’s 47-24 victory over Houghton Lake last Friday, move Johnston’s all-time won-loss record to 728-301.
A win Wednesday would move the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Famer past the legendary Lofton Green, who coached at New Buffalo (1942) and River Rouge (1943-44, 1946-84) and led the latter to 12 MHSAA Class B state championships. Green established the current record of 728 wins in 1984.
In 42 seasons at Beaverton, Johnston has led the program to 20 Jack Pine Conference championships, 15 district championships, five regional titles and an appearance in the 1984 Class C state semifinals.
"Success breeds success,” Johnston said. “We’re very fortunate. We’ve had a lot of good players come through here.”
And with a state record looming, Johnston has done his best to downplay the significance of Wednesday’s game.
"You can’t dwell on it, because you’re in the middle of a season, and we want our players to play as good as they can play, and we want to go after it. We’d like to win the league title, and see what we can do. But you have to concentrate on that, you can’t concentrate on something else."
Johnston began his coaching career at Yale during the 1966-67 season, going 13-24 in two seasons before heading to Howell for another two seasons and leading the Highlanders to a 5-28 record.
After departing Howell, Johnston moved north after accepting a teaching position at Beaverton in 1970 and quickly settled in as the school’s JV coach until taking over the varsity reins in 1974.
Conference titles and records aside, Johnston’s proudest moment has been coaching his son and three grandsons – the youngest of which, Carter, has the Beavers off to a 10-1 start and rolling towards another JPC title.
“As long as I can remember, we were always coming to games, and he was always talking to me and my brothers about everything,” the senior said.
"It just came about, after it was a possibility that became a goal that I had,” added Roy Johnston. “I just told everybody that God be willing, I hope that I can coach my grandkids."
As for how much longer Johnston envisions himself roaming the sidelines, he says he’s taking it season by season.
"I’m going year by year, and as long as I have good health, and so forth, I’d like to keep going,” he said.
"I hope he pads that number so that no one can ever beat it, to be honest with you,” added Beaverton JV coach Shad Woodruff. “I’d like to keep that record in Beaverton as long as possible."