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Article updated: 4/12/2013 3:34 PM

Johnson to direct Palatine girls basketball

By John Leusch

Mark Johnson is ready to tee it up on the basketball floor.

The former standout high school and college golfer is taking over the Palatine girls basketball program, where he has served as an assistant for seven years.

Johnson has also been the school's boys golf head coach since 2008.

Coincidentally, assistant varsity girls basketball coach Bill LePage is the school's girls golf coach.

"We will actively be recruiting golfers for the team," Johnson said with a laugh.

Johnson, who graduated from Beecher High School and Bradley University, served as the head girls basketball coach at his prep alma mater from 1995 to 2002 where he also taught social studies.

During that time, his squads won five River Valley Conference North Division championships and were the 2002 regional champions.

In the fall of 2002, he joined the social studies department at Palatine.

"Being a head coach at Palatine has been a goal of mine since I got here," Johnson said. "I learned a ton from Ron Theberge and Leslie Schock (former two Palatine head girls basketball coaches). It's been great working for both of them and I just want to continue moving the program forward."

He plans to do it with an up-tempo style of basketball.

"I like full-court pressure, and getting the ball out and running," said Johnson, who also played basketball and baseball at Beecher where he was a three-time all-conference golfer and a state qualifier as a junior. "I want to make sure the game is fun to watch. That's what is important."

"We couldn't be happier with Mark's selection to lead our girls basketball program," said Palatine principal Gary Steiger. "He's the kind of person you'd want working not only with your student-athletes on the court but with your students in the classroom as well."

This past winter, Johnson was in his second stint coaching the Pirates' freshman girls team.

He coached the team from 2003 to 2004 and then again since 2011. His 2012 freshman team was the Mid-Suburban League West co-champion.

Johnson directed the sophomore girls basketball team from 2004 to 2008, winning the MSL West title in 2006.

In his first year at Palatine, Johnson was the varsity assistant and junior varsity girls basketball coach for the 2002-2003 season.

"Mark relates well with both student-athletes and parents," said Palatine athletic director Jerry Dobbs. "His enthusiasm, energy, and knowledge of the game make him a perfect fit for this job."

From 2008 to 2010, Johnson was the sophomore boys basketball coach. He coached sophomore boys golf from 2002 to 2008 before taking over the varsity.

Johnson earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from Bradley University in 1995. He received his Illinois teaching certification from Chicago State University in history in 1999 and a master's degree in American history from Roosevelt University in 2006.

"We play in a great division and great conference," Johnson said. "We look forward to doing anything we can add to make division better and we expect to compete for the title every year."

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