Michael Johns doesn't look at winning as his main job. Instead, the Mount Pleasant football and boys' track coach strives to be a role model.
"I take that part of my job very seriously," he said.
The 44-year-old knows how important it is for him to "walk the talk" in order for his athletes to go along with the high standards he's teaching them. He hopes this will lead his teams to success on the field and, most importantly, away from it.
"It's not what you say, but what you do on a day-to-day basis," Johns said. "I can't preach something and then not follow it myself."
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Johns said he's been just an average coach, pointing out that during his time at Mount Pleasant his football team has had exactly a .500 record - 68-68.
"I feel like we've accomplished some things that the record doesn't show," he said.
He said the Tigers have made the playoffs eight times and won a conference championship during his 11 years at the helm.
However, Johns said he's most proud of the relationships he's built with the athletes. He added that these connections as well as seeing his athletes improve and grow, not only athletically but also as people, is the most exciting part of his job.
"I love football. It's a great sport. But I enjoy that interaction and to me that's more important than the game," Johns said.
He said he focused on coaching track in addition to football because that's what he knew best.
"Those are the two sports I played in high school," he explained.
Johns was an All-District outside linebacker at his El Paso, Texas, high school and ran the 300 hurdles and the 400 meters in track.
He said he enjoys both sports and their similarities, which Johns said could be found in the discipline, dedication and commitment that they require. He added that the variety found in track and the different mental approach, which is more relaxed than football, are some of the reasons he enjoys coaching the track.
But Johns didn't start his career as a coach.
After majoring in marketing, Johns worked in the business world for a couple of years before he realized it wasn't right for him.
"It just seemed like I wasn't getting anywhere," he said. "It just wasn't working."
Johns said he felt he had a calling for teaching and coaching, so he decided to give it a try.
The Texas native went through UNC Greensboro's lateral entry program for a year and student taught for a semester in order to get certified as a business teacher.
Johns began his teaching career 18 years ago at West Stanly High, where he also was an assistant football coach and the track team's head coach.
After six years there, Johns decided to move to East Rowan. But his stint in Salisbury lasted only a year. Johns was offered his first football head coaching job at Mount Pleasant. He's been a Tiger ever since.
Johns served as Mount Pleasant's girls' track coach for a few years before he decided to take some time off from the sport. When he returned to track, he started coaching the boys.
The coach said recently his track team has been pretty successful with a lot of talented athletes going through the program.
Johns added that this year's track team is no different, having a strong core of athletes.
After the team lost what Johns said was a strong senior class last year, the team will have to work hard, preparing to face strong competition such as conference opponents and traditional track and field powerhouses Jay M. Robinson, N.W. Cabarrus and A.L. Brown.
Johns said the new 3A South Piedmont Conference should be a good test for this team.
"Our conference meet is going to be tougher than regionals," he said.
The track team will probably get a fair share of Johns' positivity this season. Johns said he responded to positive coaching growing up, so he tries to do the same.
"I think your team and your athletes will feed off of your attitude," he said. "You have to make them feel that there's a possibility of wining every time."