Latin Hires New Athletic Director


Katie Johnson will assume her new position as Athletic Director beginning in July.

Shortly after entering the Upper School building and meeting beloved receptionist Sami Aday, Athletic Director candidate Katie Johnson knew Latin was the place for her. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to come to a school like Latin and to try to get the position there, just being on campus and seeing how welcoming everyone was, even just from walking in and the person who works the front desk; he was so energetic,” she said.

Latin was as impressed with Ms. Johnson as she was with Latin, and after an extensive search that included vetting more than 100 applicants over several months, the school has hired Ms. Johnson as Upper School Athletic Director, to start in July.

Assistant Head of School Ryan Allen led the search, running a committee of coaches, parents, faculty, and administrators. “We wanted someone that would be out and about, helping support our coaches and develop our coaches, and just be present in the community,” Mr. Allen said.

Ms. Johnson comes to Latin from The Ellis School, an all-girls K-12 school in Pittsburgh, where she served as the Director of Athletics for a year and a half. Before her role at Ellis, Ms. Johnson worked in Atlanta for six years at The Lovett School. There, she served in various roles including Assistant Director of Athletics, head volleyball coach, English teacher, and student advisor. Prior to Lovett, Ms. Johnson also worked as a coach and English teacher at Cambridge High School in Milton, Georgia.

Coming from a suburb outside Birmingham, Alabama, where she attended a large, football-loving high school, sports have always had a strong presence in Ms. Johnson’s life. In high school, she played basketball, softball, and volleyball, and her father is a college basketball coach. She graduated from the University of Montevallo in 2010, where she was a four-year varsity volleyball player. She set various school records and earned a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications with a minor in Spanish.

Ms. Johnson’s commitment to athletics runs deep. After years as a player, she fell in love with coaching. “I’ve been coaching for over 15 years now,” she said. “I just like being around the kids. Sports really were a big integral part of my development as a person and helped me become who I am today, and my coaches were a huge part of that, so I really love moving into that role and making a difference.”

After 12 years of coaching in the Atlanta area, Ms. Johnson jumped at the opportunity to expand into athletic administration, beginning with a large private school in Atlanta before moving to a smaller all-girls private school in Pittsburgh. “Being in that role made me realize that athletic administration was the path that I needed to be on,” she said.

Ms. Johnson has some friends in the Chicago area, but it is really Latin itself that attracted her to the position. “What really drew me to Latin was the reputation that it has athletically,” she said. “I’m really excited to find a place where students are ready to work hard and do things outside practice to make themselves better.”

Given that Latin has had three athletic directors in the past five years, Ms. Johnson hopes to provide the Latin community with some much-needed stability. “I’m looking for a place where I can stay,” she said. “I’m looking for a home.”

With years of experience working in independent schools, Ms. Johnson has a tight grasp on what it takes for students to develop as student-athletes. Philosophically, she focuses on helping students develop holistically.

“Participation in sports is just like a crash course in life for most athletes, because you’ve got the physical demands of sports that cultivate a strong work ethic and discipline. And then you have that team aspect that kind of fosters communication and leadership skills.”

Ms. Johnson added, “Especially in an independent school, where you’re having more rigorous academic work, and you’re trying to balance like fine arts and academics and athletics, just trying ways to make it work together and manage time is so important.”

At Latin, Ms. Johnson is particularly focused on enhancing interest in athletics, something she is particularly proud of improving at The Ellis School.

She observed this as a focus of the Latin students she met with during the interview process. “The students that I got to meet with had a lot of exciting ideas and things to get everyone a little bit more involved,” she said. “Getting students involved, I think, is the first thing that I really want to establish. That’s my favorite part about being in this position, just building relationships with athletes.”

While Ms. Johnson will not formally begin her position until July, the Romans appear to be in good hands with this energetic new hire. Assistant Director of Athletics Kathy Presberg said, “It’s always good to get somebody young and thoughtful in, and I think she’ll bring something special to the table.”