Johnson named softball coach in Somerset
Born into a softball loving family, Paige (Charland) Johnson is continuing the tradition.
Johnson has been named as the new varsity softball coach at Somerset High School, after serving as a coach in the program the past three seasons.
Johnson, 24, served as the Spartans' varsity assistant coach last season. Coach Cory Lindenberg let Johnson know that he planned to resign after the 2017 season. Johnson knew immediately that she wanted to apply to become the head coach. They used the season with Johnson "job shadowing" Lindenberg, learning all the details that go into being a head coach.
"I took on the scheduling, the team bonding," Johnson said. "I earned a lot from Cory. It was an awesome team and they all got along."
Johnson said she hopes to work with the girls on the mental side of the game, so they are prepared for every situation.
"I want them to approach the game with confidence," she said.
With a group of talented seniors returning and the promise of a good group of freshmen, Johnson is hoping for around 25 girls to be out for the team this spring.
Johnson played for several years on the New Richmond varsity softball team, graduating in 2012. While she could play anywhere on the field, her favorite position was catcher.
"I knew the game really well, so I felt like I could really vocalize what to do and be a good leader catching. Also, I had a good strong arm and could hit spots from a ways away. My dad caught so you could say it ran in the family and I just picked it up from him," Johnson said.
Johnson said her original interest in coaching started in hockey. She was an all-state hockey player for the Western Wisconsin Stars in 2011. Her coaching interests took a back seat when her son, Beau, arrived. When she was hired as an aide at Somerset High School, she was asked if she'd like to help with the softball team. It didn't take long to reignite her interest in coaching.
"I found this was right up my alley. I love softball," she said.
Her love for softball might be genetic. Her dad, uncle, brother and aunts were all standouts in baseball and softball at New Richmond High School. Her dad has played softball ever since high school, playing nationally for several years. And her grandfather was the one who taught them all how to play.
Her aunts, Jackie and Jill, are two of the best softball pitchers ever at New Richmond High School. Jill was the starting pitcher when New Richmond reached the WIAA Division 2 state championship game in 1995. The Tigers defeated Union Grove in the state semifinals and lost 3-2 to Wisconsin Dells in the state title game.
Johnson works as an aide in the high school special education wing, working daily with SHS baseball coach Zac Eichten. She said they share ideas on coaching.
"I love where I'm at. As an aide I get to work one-on-one with kids. I was a special ed student in high school. I help them deal with things that I went through. I have a good connection with kids all day long," she said.