In 1973, Marc Johnson’s first year as a head baseball coach in Colorado, Cherry Creek was one of the smallest big schools in the state, on the very outskirts of Denver with no established championship pedigree.
Fast-forward 49 years, and as urbanized Cherry Creek is now Colorado’s athletic behemoth, Johnson has remained the constant — a pillar of excellence in Greenwood Village. The 76-year-old enters the 2021 season one victory shy of tying the CHSAA all-time wins mark of 807 set by Eaton’s Jim Danley.
On the precipice of history, Johnson credits his longevity, success and status as a Colorado baseball icon to the groundwork he laid in his early years on the job, long before the Bruins won a big school-record eight state titles.
“Back in the early ’70s, we knew there were good athletes at Cherry Creek but that we had to get them involved with baseball at a younger age — camps for little kids, feeder teams, all that,” Johnson said. “Once we started to create the snowball of success, it was the tradition that carried us. It was the expectations of this program… and the players’ desire to uphold those expectations.”
Johnson began his baseball coaching career as a player/manager on the 2nd Armored Division team in Fort Hood, Texas, in 1969. He played second base and managed the team to a league championship on the base, plus a notable win over the University of Texas.
“With his leadership and the way he commanded, guys bought in, because he knew what he was doing even though he was about the same age as us,” said Ernie Vierra, a catcher on Johnson’s first team. “He got us together, kept us organized. You could see the passion to manage and mentor young men was really there.”
Upon his arrival at Cherry Creek, Johnson transformed the program into “a place in the city where Bruins play old, country hardball,” as one team T-shirt from the early ’70s proclaimed. Cherry Creek went 4-14 in Johnson’s first year but hasn’t had a losing record since. Johnson’s emphasis on fundamentals underscores the steadiness of the program.
AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver PostCherry Creek head coach Marc Johnson warms up his team during practice on Thursday, April 29, 2021.Related Articles
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The Bruins won their first title in 1983 in Class 3A, and from there, the program began to accumulate momentum as the coach’s reputation as a nationally acclaimed tactician and talent developer grew.
“Going back to the mid-to-late ’80s, his vision was not for just for Cherry Creek, but for the whole state of Colorado,” explained Greg Sherman, who played for Johnson from …read more
Source:: The Denver Post
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