Tim Folliard – Sports Editor
Jordan Atkins and Zontavius Johnson have both recently been named head coaches here at Benedictine. Atkins will be coaching men’s and women’s cross country and Johnson will be coaching women’s track and field.
Atkins joins Benedictine after coaching stops at University of Wisconsin, Aurora University and a few other schools. He aims to grow the program and is excited to get to know the team.
“During the hiring process, I was impressed with the strong sense of community within the athletic department and the university at large,” Atkins said. ” Paul Nelson and his staff were so welcoming and made me want to join the family.”
Atkins is a former Division III student-athlete, where he competed at Lawrence University. Atkins can relate to student-athletes and the issues that they face.
“Being a student-athlete is not easy. In my experience, it was difficult to balance athletics and academics while meeting family, social and work obligations. As a coach, it’s important to recognize that our athletes have many obligations and priorities. It is my responsibility to maximize their abilities as runners,” stated Atkins.
On the other hand, Johnson became the head coach after a year at Aurora University as an assistant. In 2019, Johnson was named Illinois High School Coach of the Year at Homewood-Flossmoor. That year, his team won the state championship and had eight individual winners.
He is excited about the opportunity to build a championship program from the ground up.
“I chose to accept the position because I believe the university will provide me the best resources to build the kind of program I want to build,” Johnson said. “I feel the administration will be a great support along this journey.”
Johnson is also a former student-athlete. He strives to not be like some of the bad coaches he had growing up, but like the coaches who made an impact outside of sports.
“I had some bad coaches growing up and I told myself I did not want to be anything like those coaches. So, every day I study the sport to become better than my former coaches. I also had some amazing coaches who have impacted my life beyond the football field and the track. I still look up to them to this day.”