Elgin native Johnson headed to IBCA Hall of Fame
When he was in seventh grade, Scott Johnson's love of basketball was born as he watched Elgin High games at the "snake pit," the Maroons' home prior to Chesbrough Field House opening in 1972.
Fifty-plus years later, Johnson is being rewarded for what became a long career working for the Illinois High School Association. The 1974 Elgin alum will be inducted with the Class of 2021 into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame next spring.
"It's a really nice honor they want to recognize my work," said Johnson, who retired in November 2019. "It was always a labor of love. I came into it just happy to be working with high school sports. Basketball was always my first love. I was lucky to fall into a job that suited my interests."
A University of Illinois graduate, Johnson recalled how he landed a job with the IHSA.
"I was working at the U of I and the job was being privatized and I didn't want to go with the private company," he said. "I had been doing side work for (former IHSA administrator) Jim Flynn and I asked him if there was any possibility to come work there. He was able to get me in and the rest is history."
Joining the IHSA staff in 1994, Johnson oversaw the association's IT efforts the next 25 years. He put the IHSA on the forefront technologically with his pioneering efforts in website integration, postseason assignment mapping software, and the development of the IHSA ScoreZone, among other things.
In his spare time, he compiled a history of Elgin High boys basketball, including box scores and records from 1899 through the 1990s.
In 1994, Johnson never envisioned the IHSA website becoming what it is, the leader of high school association websites in the country.
"Definitely not," Johnson said. "About a year after I started, we set up a bulletin board system and that only lasted a year before we started putting stuff on a website."
Johnson's IHSA work became multifaceted over the years. He managed the internal and external computer operations, and served as editor of IHSA souvenir programs and other publications. He also ran the IHSA's team chess tournament. Johnson served as chairman of the NFHS records committee, which publishes the National High School Sports Record Book, and he served on the NFHS technology committee, and the board of directors of the Peoria Riverfront Museum.
He also became an accomplished author.
In 2002 he and wife Julie Kistler wrote "Once There Were Giants," a book chronicling Hebron High's 1952 state basketball championship.
"We were approaching 2002 and the 50th anniversary of that team, and one day it occurred to me someone should tell the Hebron story," said Johnson, who lives in Bloomington. "About five minutes later I realized that someone would be me. Growing up in Elgin, I knew the Hebron story and it was a fun story to tell."
In 2006, Johnson led the efforts for the book "100 Years of Madness," a 316-page compilation on the history of the boys state tournament.
"When I was in college the first March Madness book by Jim Enright came out," Johnson said. "It had a lot of stats and articles but I wanted to know the game-by-game of what happened at the tournaments, so I started research on past tournaments. It took me until 2006. One of my major goals was to write a book on what I wanted."
In 2018, Johnson wrote "Association Work," a biography of C.W. Whitten and H.V. Porter, the first two executives employed by the IHSA.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has put some of Johnson's retirement plans -- most notably traveling -- on pause, he and Julie remain healthy and look forward to the future.
Which is something Johnson did throughout his career.