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Longtime coach leaving Needham High School (Boston.com)

Varsity - 2004 Season
Posted Sunday, June 06, 2004 by Freshman VPs
By Marvin Pave  |  June 6, 2004

Roy Johan, Needham High's athletic director for the past seven years and a football and track coach for nearly three decades, will be retiring from the school system July 1. The new AD will be John Palmer, the athletic director at Westwood High School.

Johan was a Needham High football coach and a boys' track coach from 1970 to 1997. He became head football coach in 1982 and head track coach in 1984.

A graduate of Newton High, where he lettered in indoor and outdoor track and football, Johan was a football letterman at Boston University, where he graduated in 1966. Johan began his teaching and coaching career in the Needham system after serving in Vietnam.

''It all seems like it all began yesterday," said Johan, who will be joined on the newly retired list by boys' soccer coach Don Brock, who started his career at Needham High in 1959. Brock is leaving his job as a teacher and chairman of the math department but will remain a coach. ''The difference is that Don plans to continue as head coach. I may keep my hand in athletics or coaching, but that's not definite. Dave Duffy, our head football coach, said he'd like to have me on his staff next fall as an assistant."

Johan was honored as the Massachusetts Football Officials Coach of the Year in 1993. In 1997, he was named the National Football League's coach of the week. That award is a combined effort of the local media and the local NFL team. He said he was the kind of coach who enjoyed the structure and the teaching aspect of team practices.

''Sports is more than just games," he said, ''because you learn to execute in practice, and when you get into the games, many times, you're on your own. Coaches can't be there with the kids in the huddle or at the starting line."

Johan's best season as head track coach was in 1986, when the squad was undefeated outdoors in dual meets. His best season as head football coach was 1995, when the Rockets were 8-2 and won the Bay State Carey Division title.

''It's easy to retire when you hate what you do, so it has been tough for me to separate myself from my job as the end of the school year is approaching," Johan said.

He met his wife, Maureen, when they both lived in Newton during their college years. The Johans have one daughter, Nicole, a 1993 graduate of Needham High, where she played lacrosse and field hockey.

Johan, who taught US history, world history, and practical law at the high school, was also dean of students from 1995 to 1997.

''Being around kids, there's a certain level of enthusiasm that catches on to you," he said. ''That's been the best part of my years at the high school, along with the relationships with people I've worked with who are lifetime friends."

Johan hears from many of his former players, including San Francisco 49ers tight end Eric Johnson and Mike Tanenbaum, now an assistant general manager with the New York Jets.

''Mike has been great to us. He's had the Jets donate shoes and footballs to the Needham High program, and he set up a scholarship in his parents' name that provides a computer to a graduating senior," Johan said. ''Another former player, Alan Waltzman, who owns four Gold's Gyms, volunteers as a freshman football coach and has donated weights and equipment to our program."

''It's people like that you never forget," he said, ''because they never forget you or Needham High."

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