BELLARMINNE-JEFFERSON HIGH — Her exploits on the hardwood at Bellarmine-Jefferson High, in college and in professional basketball are well known at the school.
A former standout All-CIF Southern Section girls’ basketball and volleyball player for the Guards, Jaclyn Johnson has kept tabs on her alma mater and stayed close to individuals who helped shape her as a person.
Although 13 years removed from Bell-Jeff, Johnson enjoyed something of a homecoming this week. Taking over for Bryan Camacho, Johnson has been named the school’s new athletic director.
“Bell-Jeff is where it all started for me,” said Johnson, who graduated in 1997. “I just want to do all I can to give back to the athletes who are at the school, and who will be coming in next year. It’s really nice to be back.”
Johnson steps into a position held by Camacho, who also served as the school’s boys’ and girls’ basketball coach. He stepped down less than three weeks ago to take an assistant coaching job with the Cal State Northridge women’s team.
Since Camacho’s departure, Bell-Jeff and its principal, Sister Cheryl Milner, have wasted little time starting to fill the Guards’ open positions.
“We are very happy to have Jaclyn with us at Bell-Jeff,” Milner said. “Jaclyn is just one year removed from playing basketball all over the world. She is quite a basketball player. We know she will be a great addition at Bell-Jeff.”
This is the first administrative job for Johnson. However, with a background in athletics and good organizational skills, she believes she will be able to do a fine job at Bell-Jeff.
“I was an opportunity that I jumped at,” she said. “I like challenges, and challenges drive me. I plan to be there for the students at the school, like the ones who were there for me when I went here.
“I know it’s going to be a lot of work. Coach [Jim] Couch has been kind enough to give me some wisdom and just some guidance, and hopefully I’ll be able to do a good job.”
Couch was Johnson’s coach at Bell-Jeff. He was also served as the school’s track and field and cross-country coach, as well as athletic director.
As a senior at Bell-Jeff, Johnson helped the Guards girls’ basketball team win the 1997 CIF Southern Section Division IV championship — on her last-second buzzer-beater. She was also the division’s player of the year.
The title was the first championship won by the school in any sport.
Along with earning All-CIF Southern Section honors in basketball, she was also an All-CIF choice in girls’ volleyball.
After Bell-Jeff, she went on to the University of Kansas, where she became one of the most successful women’s players in school history.
In her senior season, she led the Jayhawks by averaging 16.1 points a game, to go along with 7.7 rebounds, 2.1 steals and almost a block a game. Johnson also scored in double-digits in 19 of 24 games and led Kansas in scoring 17 times.
In her four-year collegiate career, the 6-foot-1 Johnson finished fifth on the Jayhawks’ career rebounding list with 846 and 11th on the all-time scoring list with 1,378 points. She was also fifth in career free-throws made (382), fifth in free-throws attempted (555) and fifth career games played (123).
In 2001, she was selected in the WNBA Draft in the third round — 42nd pick overall — by the Orlando Miracle.
She also played professionally over seas for a number of teams, the last in Israel.
Johnson takes over athletic-director duties at a school that had its share of sports success during the 2009-10 season. The girls’ basketball, softball and girls’ volleyball teams won league championships. In addition, the volleyball squad advanced to a CIF championship game and the basketball team went as far as the semifinals.
Milner said with the athletic-director position filled, the school could name new boys’ and girls’ basketball coaches as soon as next week.