Gerald A. “Jerry” Johnson
Class of 2012
New Lenox Lincoln-Way
Jerry Johnson was born in Joliet and grew up on a family dairy farm southwest of Joliet. He attended Joliet Township HS, where he participated in football and wrestling. He was coached by IWCOA and Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Famer Ray Klootwyk. His senior year he was a regional champion and placed third at sectional.
He attended Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO, where he was a 4 year starter on the football team. The school did not offer interscholastic wrestling, so he did some intramural wrestling and coached at a small private high school. He was chemistry major and obtained a teaching certificate.
His first job was at Dakota HS in Dakota, IL where he was assistant football coach, head wrestling coach and taught science and math. He started the wrestling program in Dakota, a community where most had never seen a folk style wrestling match.
After two years at Dakota, he was employed by Lincoln-Way HS in New Lenox, IL. He taught science and was an assistant coach in football and wrestling. In 1973 he was named Lincoln-Way’s head wrestling coach. In the next 14 years he guided the Knights to 14 straight winning seasons with a dual record of 184-48-2 and two undefeated seasons. They won 8 tournament titles (4 conference championships, 2 regional and 1 sectional). Twenty-eight individuals won conference championships, 18 state medals and six teams finished in the top 20 of the state. One former wrestler went on to capture a Pan AM gold medal and another was an NCAA Division I national champion.
Following his retirement from coaching, Jerry became on official progressing from registered to recognized to certified. He worked many matches and tournaments including regional and sectional meets. In 1993, he was named SICA Wrestling Coaches Association Official of the Year. He also has been the announcer in both dual meets and tournaments assisting in the management of several tournaments.