April 29, 2009
Already a pillar in the community for his philanthropic and athletic endeavors, Bryce Johnson’s achievements are being recognized statewide by a collection of Missouri’s wisest sports minds.
Selected by a scholarship committee made up of athletic directors across the state, the 6-foot-1 senior was awarded the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Scholarship on April 5.
“It’s nice to be the lone male in the state selected,” Johnson said. “It’s great to know I’m up there with the best in state academically and athletically.”
The laid-back, versatile student-athlete was honored with the $1,000 scholarship based on his strong track record in the community and classroom, and his achievements on the football field and baseball diamond were not what endeared him to local athletic directors.
“I have had the opportunity to teach and coach many high quality young men and women in my years,” Lee’s Summit Athletic Director Dan Schnell wrote in an e-mail to The Democrat. “I could tell in a short amount of time talking with Bryce that he would be in the top with any of the students I’ve taught or coached. ...
“He is a fine young man and a great representative of the Sedalia community. Bryce showed the ADs from all over the state what type of product our area produces.”
The award was less about his athletic prowess, highlighted by a 7-0 record with a 2.30 earned-run average on the mound this season, and more about pulling his weight in the academic and philanthropic arenas.
With a 4.36 weighted grade-point average, Johnson has squashed the jock stereotype with his competitive nature extending into the classroom. The Tigers’ star quarterback and staff ace is slated to be Smith-Cotton’s valedictorian this year, and despite his propensity for math and science, Johnson’s MIAAA scholarship was based largely on his skills as a strong writer and orator.
Selected as the lone male recipient from the Show-Me State, Johnson was honored for his grades, community involvement and athletic participation, but his 500-word essay on “how high school athletics have impacted my life” distanced himself from the list of qualified applicants.
Delivered in front of 500 esteemed guests at the Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, Johnson’s essay focused not only on the impact athletics had made in his life, but the effect his father and coach, Mark Johnson, has had in his development as a leader on the gridiron and in the community.
From Bryce’s role as a ball boy on the sidelines of his dad’s teams to the pair leading the Tigers to a district championship and quarterfinal playoff berth this past year, the two have shared the sweetness of victory and the agony of defeat together. Through the experiences learned under his father’s tutelage, Bryce believes the life lessons have been invaluable not only in his life, but in his teammates’ lives.
“To my dad: You have been a father to more kids than just me,” Bryce wrote to conclude his essay. “Every athlete should be so blessed to have you by their side.”
As coach Johnson was a role model to his son, Bryce has been a mentor to his teammates and Sedalia’s youth through his countless hours of community service. Bryce has tutored junior high and high school students, and along with the myriad of school clubs he’s involved with, the senior established Tiger Athletes Reading to Students, an after-school reading program for elementary students, in 2007.
The senior’s workload has been busy to say the least, but the two-star athlete has always set priorities. Through the two-a-day football practices in the fall, the everyday practices on the diamond in the spring and summer, and the constant hours of rehabilitation and therapy meant to help out the aches of the everyday grind, Bryce has struck the right balance and juggled his time to excel in multiple arenas.
His hard work has set him up to attend Drury University on an athletic scholarship, and with another scholarship in the mix, Bryce is on the right path to limiting the costs of medical school.