Jesse Johnston has become a fixture with Newton County Recreation Commission sports during the 24 years he’s been coaching there.
Johnston begins a new phase in his career next year, coaching softball for the first time as his youngest daughter, 4-year-old Jalie, is currently one of his wee-ball players.
He began coaching just four years after graduating from Newton County High School when his oldest son Chris, began playing baseball in 1989. Chris began with the under-six team and Johnston has been coaching football and baseball at all levels ever since.
He went on to coach his now 20-year-old son Ryan, along with Chris, and other teams where his sons played.
“I do it for the kids,” Johnston said. “After my boys stopped playing, I continued to coach. I just love it and enjoy it.”
Not only has he helped lead young athletes throughout all these years, but also has seen a change in youth athletics. Now, with 4, 5 and 6 year olds coming out to play wee-ball, he is just glad to see Newton County’s youngsters enjoying the outdoors.
“Kids today want to play video games and I enjoy seeing them out there playing,” Johnston said. “They need to get out.”
Johnston has continued coaching and leading teams and helped lead Newton County’s Dixie Boys World Series team in 2008 — one of his fondest memories in his 20-plus years.
“My biggest memories are my boys’ first hits and coaching the World Series team,” Johnston said.
Johnston said he will continue to coach at NCRC, both Jalie’s teams and others, even softball after her time in wee-ball is over.
“Now, we use wee-ball bringing boys and girls together,” Johnston said. “I enjoy that — combining the co-ed type sports. It’s pretty neat.”