STRATFORD — Dave Johnson was revered throughout his time as a coach and athletic director for always putting the kids first.
Johnson was honored in a ceremony prior to the Stratford Bunnell boys’ basketball game Tuesday night with the Bunnell gymnasium being renamed in his honor.
“There are a lot of great memories,” Johnson said. “Having coached in this gym for 35 years, girls’ basketball, boys’ basketball and as an athletic director we hosted so many CIAC and league playoff games. We even hosted state championship games in this gym for volleyball and basketball, so the with the athletes and coaches that have come through this gym, there are just a lot of great memories.”
Johnson served as the Bunnell Athletic Director for 34 years after beginning his career in 1979 as the boys track coach and a substitute teacher at Stratford.
— Will Aldam (@AldamWill) February 11, 2020
In 2010 he was named the Athletic Director of the year by the Connecticut Coaches Association and was named National Athletic Director of the year in 2011 by the National High School Coaches Association.
Throughout his career, Johnson coached track, cross country, basketball and baseball and is currently the commissioner of the South-West Conference.
To add to his list of many accolades, it was also announced during the ceremony that Johnson will be inducted into the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors Hall of Fame as a first ballot selection.
“One of the things that is really special about his town is the people in this town get it,” Johnson said. “Stratford and Bunnell is such a great high school rivalry but the thing that was always such a joy is there’s so much respect and comradery between the two schools. It’s kind of like the Army-Navy football game, a unique rivalry that when you step on the court you want to beat your opponent so bad and when the game is over and you shake hands there is so much respect and admiration.
— Will Aldam (@AldamWill) February 12, 2020
“That really goes to the administrators, the coaches and the leaders in this town that set that tone, that high school sports can be healthy, positive, and intense but at the end of the day we try to run our programs in the best interest of the kids. This is a great town to teach in, it’s a great town to coach in and for me it was a great town to be an athletic director in.”
The following game was fitting, as the cross-town rivals battled in a back-and-forth contest before Stratford pulled away at the very end to take the 62-58 victory under the new David Johnson Gymnasium banner.
“The fact that this game is Bunnell and Stratford, it doesn’t get any better than that.” Johnson said. “In the college level they say Duke and North Carolina, but in Stratford its Bunnell and Stratford.”
Stratford was led by Michael D’Aloia who dropped 19 points, sinking four 3-pointers as his team’s catalyst. Kevin Lanham had 20 points for Bunnell.
With the score knotted up at 46-46 after three quarters, Stratford outscored Bunnell 16-12 in the final quarter to earn its seventh win of the season.