Richard Johnson, Hydel’s conscience
Assistant coach provides stable presence with Bennett on double duty
In a year where Corey Bennett has had to juggle the responsibilities of being Calabar High head coach as well as Hydel High, he has assistant coach Richard Johnson to thank for being his voice for Hydel as they mount another title chase at this...
In a year where Corey Bennett has had to juggle the responsibilities of being Calabar High head coach as well as Hydel High, he has assistant coach Richard Johnson to thank for being his voice for Hydel as they mount another title chase at this year’s ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs).
For two decades Johnson and Bennett have worked together in track and field circles. During their time at Hydel, the partnership has yielded consistent top-three finishes. Even with Bennett’s added responsibilities, Johnson says it has not affected how they have prepared the team this year.
“We have been working for over 20 years. I understand our philosophy, the Hydel philosophy, I understand the programme well, and I understand how to motivate and get the girls to perform up to expectations. We make a good team working together. So nothing will change and we understand the fact that he has other duties,” Johnson told The Gleaner.
Bennett has called Johnson the glue that has kept the programme together, crediting him for Hydel’s foray into the competition in the first place and marvelling at his drive to mould student-athletes after two decades.
“Mr Johnson is the balance for me. He doesn’t let up. When I feel like just relaxing a little bit, he doesn’t let up. I find it strange how he is consistently motivated over all these years. He is the person why we are even at Champs because he is the one who pushed us to get into Champs,” Bennett said. “He is the stabilising element, that consistent person who keeps the team together and pushes them along the way. So I am really appreciative and grateful to him.”
With just a week before the real business starts, the focus has been not just on fine-tuning the preparations physically but mentally banking on their sprinting class to continue the level of success they have enjoyed over the year.
Over the past four years, our sprinting has taken us to another level and hence that has continued this season. We are expecting our athletes to perform at their peak and Champs is always a high-pressure and competitive environment.,” Johnson said. “We usually do well under the pressure. It is something that is not easy and we are expected to do well over the five days.”
Their win at Central Championships, albeit delayed because of the recount may not have had the fanfare they were hoping for, but Johnson is hoping that it is the set-up for something greater to come when Champs concludes on April 1.
“That might be a blessing in disguise in that we didn’t get to celebrate the way we wanted to. But we are focusing on Champs and we want to have that big celebration at Champs,” Johnson said. “Sometimes it sort of challenges us when they get up to a level and then bring them down and get them up again. So we appreciate the fact that we won it (Central Champs) and the girls received it with humility But as I said before, the major focus is Champs.”