Home Living The Year of the Panther – A Tribute to Coach Lance Johnson

The Year of the Panther – A Tribute to Coach Lance Johnson


How do you write a story about North Lamar Soccer Coach Lance Johnson when he touched so many lives over the years? I found myself digging out my son’s senior year scrapbook to jog the memories of Coach Johnson. It was fall of 2004 and not a lot of kids were in the football program and not a lot of fans in the bleachers either. NL had suffered quite a dry spell in football for many years, but things seemed to brew that season.

Kids began recruiting kids to be in the program; kids that had never played in the program before. What did they really have to lose? Coach Johnson was brought onto the coaching team to assist the kicker. Seems like a logical move since he was the soccer coach. My son was the holder for the kicker, so they spent quite a bit of time with Coach Johnson. And as you know an extra point can win a game. I can remember my son coming home and telling me what a great coach Lance was, that he had the kindest spirit and was extremely patient. All the boys loved Coach Johnson.


As the season started the fear of most of the parents with the team were they wouldn’t win a game, but it seemed to be the year of the Panther. Everything started to come together. Fans started to fill the bleachers, spirit was high and winning was in the air. I saved all of The Paris News headlines that year; Panthers Look to Beat Greenville to the Punch, 6-0 and Counting, Still Going and NL Seeking History with First Playoff Victory. The Panthers went on to play in the District 12-4A Playoffs after a 19-year hiatus from the playoffs. I also read all the articles I had saved and found that every field goal was an extra point that season. I think this is a great testimony to Coach Johnson’s dedication to a bunch of boys that came together with more heart than skill.

As I browsed through all my photos, I came across one of Coach Johnson at pep rally just before the playoffs and it seems to catch his care-free spirit and love for North Lamar.

“North Lamar is sad to hear about the passing of Coach Lance Johnson. As a former teacher and coach, he is remembered for how well he related to the kids both on and off the field. He had a great attitude, was creative, and often went against the trend. But the biggest life lesson for all was the way Coach Johnson faced his illness with courage and strength. He will be greatly missed and our prayers and thoughts go out to his family.”

I told my son yesterday of the passing of Coach Johnson and he was very sad to hear of the news.

“He was just a great guy and an inspiration to so many. I know he will be missed,” said Zac Williams.

Indeed, I know he will be missed as well. I’m sure there are many memories students would like to share in this post, so please feel free to comment and show Coach Lance Johnson your love.

Toni McDowra
Toni McDowra graduated from Texas A&M Commerce with a Bachelor in Business & Marketing. She started her career right here in Paris, TX selling media advertising for KBUS radio.


  1. Coach Johnson was awesome. Whether it was in health class, tennis practice or just a fist bump passing in the hall you could always count on him to have that energy with him that just makes everyone have a better day.

  2. He was my daughter’s freshman volleyball coach. That year there were not many freshman teams to play and he saw her talent and made sure she became a part of the JV team that year. That was the year Lance was diagnosed with ALS. That was the year this man was given 5 years to live. As the years passed and Lance continued to teach and coach he would always ask about how my daughter was doing well into college. Very kind, gentle, caring man that could motivate others as well as himself to fight to the end. Lance Johnson will be missed.

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