CLAREMONT — Dylan Johnson enjoyed his time as the head coach of the Bunker Hill varsity boys basketball team, as brief as it may have been. After one season at the helm of the Bears’ boys hoops program, the 29-year-old is leaving to become an assistant principal at North Buncombe High School in Weaverville.
Johnson recently completed his Master’s in School Administration from Western Carolina University and began applying for administrative positions. Although he didn’t believe he would actually be hired for one at such a young age, that’s ultimately exactly what happened.
“I wasn’t expecting to get any jobs with me being so young in terms of as an administrator,” said Johnson, “but I guess I did a good job or whatnot and I was offered the opportunity.”
Johnson’s father, Tommy, was an educator for over 30 years. He also won over 500 games as a boys basketball coach at the varsity level.
“I’ve always known ever since I got an education degree that administration is what I want to do,” said Johnson. “I’ve grown up in education … and I wanted to go that direction because I love helping people and empowering people and I think by going that direction you can empower the most people possible.
“I’m used to school right now being younger, and so I said, ‘You know, I’ll just get it (a master’s degree) now while I’m used to being in school instead of having to go back,’” he continued. “I’ve heard horror stories of people going back like after 20 years and how much harder it was to go back to school, so I said, ‘I’ll just do it now while I’m used to schooling and stuff like that.’”
Nevertheless, Johnson will miss Bunker Hill and the relationships he was able to build during his time there. The Bears finished 3-22 during the 2019-20 season, but Johnson had high hopes for the future and still does for whoever takes his place.
“It was bittersweet to say the least because I like Bunker Hill, I loved working there. My principal (Lee Miller) was great, my athletic director (James Byrd) was great, all the coaching staff got along,” said Johnson. “… We weren’t very good this year, but we had talent coming up and we could’ve got a lot better in the next two or three years. But when an opportunity comes along like this one at such an early age for me, I really couldn’t pass it up.
“I think whoever takes it over has a great opportunity to be really good in the next two to three years,” he added of Bunker Hill’s next head coach.
A 2009 graduate of North Wilkes High School, Johnson played collegiality at Catawba Valley Community College and Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa. While at Warren Wilson, he and his younger brother, Ty, helped the Owls win the Division II United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Championship.
Johnson will begin his new job as an assistant principal at North Buncombe on Aug. 1 after being approved by the Buncombe County Schools Board of Education on Tuesday.
“The principal there, Dr. (Samantha) Sircey, is great. I know a few people there from my master’s degree, I was in classes with a few people that work there still. … I’ve heard nothing but good things about it,” said Johnson. “I’ve heard it’s a great community, and that’s kind of what I like to be in. I like to be in good communities like that, like the Bunker Hill community. I like a community-centered school and that’s where I feel like I thrive at, and that’s really what attracted me to North Buncombe.
“If I was single or maybe just married with no children, maybe it would have been different,” he added of the presence of his wife and two young children, which factored into his decision. “But I preach this to my teams I’ve coached, my team this year, that it’s family first. And me getting this job, putting my family in a better position to be comfortable, that’s my number one job is taking care of my children.”
Prior to Johnson’s arrival, current Bunker Hill girls basketball coach Lee Swanson was the head coach of the school’s boys basketball squad. Swanson was 40-64 in four seasons as the Bears’ boys coach before leading the girls to a 21-8 record and the second round of the 2A state playoffs this past winter.
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