Spry is thrilled to celebrate the many successful women in the sports industry. We are proud to work with many of these men and women and can’t wait to share their stories and successes with you!
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Jaclyn “Jackie” Johnson. Johnson currently serves as the Athletic Director at Pasadena City College.
Below is a summary of our conversation:
Please give me a brief history of your life/career.
“I was involved in athletics my whole life. I had the good fortune to have a successful athletic career, both in college and in the pros. But no one’s career lasts forever, and the truth was, as a female athlete, I hadn’t made enough money to be able to retire, so I knew there would need to be something more after that.”
Johnson is being modest when she speaks of her “successful” career. She was a standout member of the Kansas Jayhawks women’s basketball team where she scored over 1000 career points and graduated ranking 5th on the school’s all-time rebounding list. Johnson, who was drafted in 2001 by the WNBA’s Orlando Miracle, went on to enjoy a lengthy professional career, playing in both the WNBA and Europe. After retiring from basketball, Johnson remained close to the game.
“When I stopped playing, that’s when the real world got real. There was no team paying for my housing or taking care of my arrangements. I knew I had to have a plan and figure it out for myself. I always had a personal interest in training and coaching kids. My coach at my old high school mentioned that I’d make a good replacement for him so I agreed to come on board and coached there for a few years.”
Johnson returned to her roots at Bellamarine-Jefferson High School in Burbank, where she won two league championships as the head coach at her alma mater in 2011 and 2012. It was at Bellamarine-Jefferson where she would also get her start as an AD.
“I knew I eventually wanted to transition into the college realm. I had a contact in the community college system who encouraged me to apply for a position as an equipment coordinator. I got the position and that was the beginning of my career as a college athletic administrator. I really think my background as an athlete helped me as an administrator. It helped me learn how to manage different roles and personalities.”
And learn she did. Johnson enjoyed a meteoric rise as an administrator. Johnson began as an equipment coordinator at Santa Monica College in 2012. By 2016 she had been named the interim Athletic Director, a role she held for two years. This led to her being named the full-time athletic director at Evergreen Valley College where she enjoyed a successful tenure from 2019-2022. In September of 2022, Johnson assumed her current role as AD of Pasadena City College.
What advice would you offer to aspiring young professionals?
“Sometimes people are only in your life for a season. Not every meaningful relationship has to last indefinitely.”
“Hang around people who know more than you. I always loved being in the presence of older people. I was a sponge and I learned so much from just talking and being around them.”
“Don’t let the naysayers keep you from reaching your goals.”
”Approach every situation like it’s an opportunity.”
Finish this sentence. The most rewarding aspect of my job is…….?
“Seeing kids come back who have become successful. Seeing young people you’ve had a chance to work with find success is always incredibly rewarding.’
Who have been your role models/mentors professionally? Personally?
“Suzanne Shaw, who was the Chair of the Journalism department at Kansas was a great inspiration to me.”
What Does Women’s History Month Mean to You?
“I think every month should be Women’s History Month. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without strong women like my mom and others. Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate all the strong women who have made an impact in their communities. Being an athlete has opened a lot of doors for me. But it shouldn’t have to take that. Women’s History Month is about giving a voice to all women.”
Jackie Johnson has used her voice effectively in every role she has held. Whether as a player, coach, or athletic director, she has always risen to the top of her game. She is truly an inspiration to all who have crossed her path and for this reason, Spry is excited to honor her as part of our Women’s History Month celebration!