David F. “Coach DJ” Johnston is beginning his fourth season as Assistant Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Coach at Lees-McRae College.
During his third season, 2018-19, Coach DJ mentored two Conference Champions, five All-Conference Athletes and four All-Southeast Region track and field athletes. Sophomore Bayle Wood won the Javelin throw for the second year in a row. Britney Agustin was the 400 Hurdle Conference Champion and became the first female LMC Track & Field athlete to ever attend the NCAA DII National Championships. A total of six school records were broken during the 2019 season, five by women and one by men. Bayle Wood broke three, the Weight Throw, Hammer Throw and Javelin Throw records. Sariah Soloman-Dempiare broke the school Indoor Shot-Put record, Britney Agustin broke the Outdoor 400m Hurdle record and Cooper Abernathy broke the school record in the Discus.
During his second season, 2017-18, Coach Dj mentored six All-Conference and four All-Southeast Region track and field athletes.
On the men’s team Jason Saintizaire, high jumper from Lake Worth, Florida and Luke Rochester, pole vaulter from Seneca, South Carolina were the two All-Region and All-Conference selections. Cooper Abernathy, a freshman from Draughn HS, Valdese, North Carolina was selected for All-Conference in the javelin.
From the women’s team freshman Bayle Wood from Elkin HS, Elkin, North Carolina was first place in the javelin. Bayle was honored as All-Conference and All-Region for her win in the javelin throw and was on the Conference and Region All-Academic team. Bayle set a new women’s javelin school record in the process. Senior Kaitlyn Gearing from White County High School in Cleveland, Ga was a multi-talented and multi event athlete all season and was selected to the All-Region team in the heptathlon. Kaitlyn performed in ten events during the Conference Carolinas Championship, eight of those events were finals. With her “multi” talents Kaitlyn set a school record in the heptathlon and was within sixty points of qualifying for the DII National Championship.
In Coach DJ’s inaugural first year, 2016-17 at Lees-McRae, DJ’s athletes accumulated fifteen All-Conference awards (eight for men and seven for women), four All-Region (two men and two women), and four individual Conference Champions.
Christian Lloyd, pole vaulter from Irmo, South Carolina, and Kendall Isler, high jumper from Winder, Georgia were both All-Conference and All-Region.
Erin Bingham, a senior from Ashe County High School in Jefferson, North Carolina, won both the indoor 60-meter and outdoor 100-meter hurdles, earned a place on the All-Region Team twice and set the indoor 60-meter hurdle school record. Erin finished her career with six Conference Carolinas gold medals, two silver and still holds the Conference Carolinas outdoor 100m Hurdles record. Makayla Boswell from Davie County High school in Mocksville, North Carolina was Indoor and Outdoor Conference Carolinas High Jump Champion and named to the All-Region team both indoors and outdoors. Makayla won the conference championship high jump four times. Freshman Jennifer Johnson broke three school records in her first season, 60-meters (Indoor), the 100-meters and triple-jump (Outdoor).
Prior to Lees-McRae College Coach DJ spent four successful years at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee.
During Coach DJ’s time at ETSU he guided eighteen Conference Champions in the jumps, throws and multis. In addition to these firsts, he mentored three All-Americans and produced numerous medal winners that assisted the men’s and women’s teams in securing conference third place finishes both indoors and outdoors.
Highlights - ETSU
Highlights of Coach DJ’s first season, 2012-13 at ETSU saw athletes under his tutelage go on a tear and produce outstanding personal-best performances. Seventeen out of eighteen athletes under Coach DJ’s guidance produced personal bests, most had not performed at their best since graduating high school. He directed several individual event champions during both the indoor and outdoor seasons. These showings included seven gold, five silver and six bronze medalists at the A-Sun Championships, as well as two NCAA Outdoor All-Americans. Two-time All-American Tyler Stepp in the long jump/7.90m and Jason Johnson in the triple jump.
During the following three seasons, athletes under Coach DJ’s guidance continued to follow their prior season’s successes and dominated their events at the Atlantic Sun Indoor and Outdoor Championships, producing eleven gold, six silver and two bronze medals. Brett Squibbs, pole vaulter from Rock Hill, South Carolina was named to the All-Conference team five times during his four years of competition under Coach DJ’s guidance. In the 2014 indoor season the women jumpers exploded and won all four jumps events, long jump & high jump by Katka Vodova, pole vault by Ashley Kessler (a six-time conference Pole Vault winner) and Lexie Burley in the triple jump (also a six-time conference champion).Winning all four women’s jumps was an A-Sun Conference first.
In addition to these great performances, long jump champion Tyler Stepp, who qualified for the NCAA regional meet, moved on to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon for two seasons in a row and came away with his second NCAA All-America award in as many years. During those years Coach DJ trained triple jumper Lexie Burley who was awarded the A-Sun Women’s Track & Field Scholar Athlete of the Year and multi-event talent Katka Vodova who earned Women’s Field Event Athlete honors at the A-Sun Outdoor Championships with first in the high jump, second in the long jump, second in the pole vault and second in the javelin to personally earn 34 team points.
Prior to returning to the college ranks in August of 2012, Johnston has passionately dedicated over 45 years of his life to coaching.
From 2008 to 2012 Coach DJ created his own Training Center (sTs Athletics club) in Alachua, Florida and coached athletes in the Throws, Jumps, Sprints Hurdles, Relays and Pole Vault.
Coach DJ also became a Athletics Coach/Consultant (Track and Field) to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and to Prince Nawaf Mohammad Al Saud and the Saudi Athletic Federation. Coaching Emerging Elite Athletes and Elite athletes to Asian/Arab/World Class standards. Developing and coaching Hussain Al Hisam, KSA, University of Kansas from the age of ten to fourteen. Hussain set the world record for fourteen-year old pole vaulters and was the NCAA Indoor National Champion in the Pole Vault in the Indoor season of 2018. He also coached three KSA Long Jumpers to PR’s of above eight meters.
He is well noted for the creation of the "Six-Stride Mark Chart" (www.oneapproachrun.com). His six-stride check mark charts deal with the “Physics of Speed” and how the speed and accuracy of the approach run in the long jump and pole vault can produce maximum jumps. Additionally, his physics-based charts for stride length and stride frequency that are being used for sprints, hurdles and relays have produced training tools (“Ladders”) for maximum training performance.
DJ is a clinician at camps and clinics worldwide. His presentations include the "Physics of Speed", technical models in the Triple Jump, Pole Vault ("19+Plus"), Hurdles, High Jump, "The Natural High Jump", the 4x100m Relay”, "The Timed Method of Establishing a ‘Go’ Mark" and "Fundamentals of the 4x100 Relay Overhand Baton Pass" and “4 x 1 Get it Right”.
He has coached track and field at the International, Olympic, University, national and high school levels, producing champions at all levels and in multiple events.
His former pupils include 1984 Olympic silver medalist in the pole vault, Mike Tully; previous world record holder in the javelin throw, Roald Bradstock; University of Florida Hall of Famer, winter and summer Olympian, Liston Bochette; SEC champion and All-American in the pole vault, Will Freeman; Bahamian Olympians and Florida SEC long jump and triple jump champions, Michael Sharpe & Fletcher Lewis and Canadian pole vault record holder and Olympian Bruce Simpson.
In the early stages of his coaching career as an assistant coach at the University of Florida, DJ worked with and was mentored by former UF Head Track Coach, 1980 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Coach, and USATFCCCA Hall of Fame Coach, Jimmy Carnes. DJ has also had the honor of coaching with Guy Kochel and Bill Webb. Kochel is a USATFCCCA Hall of Fame Coach, former USA pole vault coordinator and former ASU head coach. Webb is the former head coach at Cal State Northridge, former University of Tennessee head coach, 2003 U.S. Olympic Committee National Track and Field Coach of the Year, and a recent USATFCCCA Hall of Fame Coach inductee.
As an athlete at the University of Central Arkansas, Johnston was a three-time colligate All-American in track and field and an NAIA National Indoor Champion in the long jump. He is a member of the UCA Bears, Conway Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame for football and track. In track and field, he held eight school records, four AIC Conference records, and was AIC Conference High Point Performer his sophomore, junior and senior years. His record performances included conference championships in the 110m hurdles, long jump, triple jump, 4x100m relay, 4x200m relay and 4x400m relay. DJ's long jump record held for 10 years, while his triple jump record remained on the books for 38 years before finally being broken in 2007. In addition, his collegiate performances for UCA, DJ held the state of Arkansas Triple Jump record. All these accomplishments led to his induction into the Arkansas Track and Field Hall of Fame for his performances as an athlete and as a coach of world class stature.
Johnston earned his master's degree from the University of Central Arkansas.