With little fanfare, longtime White Castle High School boys basketball coach Ronald Johnson has announced his retirement from the Iberville Parish-based school.
“I guess at some point,people might wonder what’s happened to coach Johnson,” Johnson said. “I’ll still be around … I’ll definitely be going to games. I just won’t be coaching.
“I’ve got four grandchildren now, and it’s time for me to spend more time at home. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to relax some.”
The 60-year-old Johnson led the Bulldogs to a runner-up finish in Class 1A this spring. WCHS (26-8) lost 66-60 to another local school, Christian Life Academy, in the title game played in Ruston in March.
Johnson also coached track and baseball at the school and finished his career as the boys basketball coach-athletic director.
During his 34 seasons at WCHS, Johnson led the Bulldogs to three state titles and six runner-up finishes in Class 1A. He compiled a career record of 678-250.
The last two years of Johnson’s tenure were arguably among his best. The Bulldogs won the 1A title in 2011, beating another local team, Southern Lab, 66-65, in the title game played in Lafayette. WCHS finished 27-8 in 2010-11.
“I thought about retiring after last year,” Johnson said. “We’d won the title, and that would have been a great way to go out. But we had a group of seniors who wanted me to come back for them this past year, and I’m glad I did.”
Johnson’s White Castle teams won Class 1A titles in 1991, 2002 and 2011. His WCHS teams finished as the 1A runners-up in 1992, 1995, 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2012. Johnson-led WCHS teams won 17 district titles.
“He’s a great coach who has done a lot for basketball, not only at White Castle High, but also in the Baton Rouge area,” Christian Life coach Mark Cascio said. “We were in their district for a couple of years, and you always knew you were going to have a battle on your hands whenever you played White Castle.
“Their gym was one of the toughest places to play, but it was also a great place to play because of the atmosphere. That’s a credit to him and to their community.”
Johnson said he is proudest of the family atmosphere WCHS teams had, with most players coming from within the White Castle city limits or nearby.
“It was always about family, because we’re all related,” Johnson said. “Everybody came from White Castle. We competed against schools who were able to draw players from every part of larger cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans and were successful. I’m proudest of that.”
Johnson said he considers each of his teams to be “special” regardless of record or state finish. His scrapbook contains team photos of each group, along with the team’s record of playoff finish.
“Wow, we’ve lost one of our icons,” Scotlandville High coach Carlos Sample said of Johnson. “He was one of those coaches who did it right. He didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk, too. He’ll be missed.”