September 16 - Dustin Johnson, who spent six years as a college assistant and most recently served as a scout with the San Diego Padres, has been hired as the new head coach at West Potomac.
The school’s director of student activities, Aaron Helmick, confirmed the hire earlier today.
Johnson becomes the Wolverines’ fourth coach in three years but just the seventh in the program’s 34-year history. He replaces Jimmy Linza, who led the Alexandria school to a 16-6 record and a second straight Gunston District championship this past spring. Jason Hescock skippered the team on an interim basis to conclude the 2018 campaign after longtime coach Jim Sullivan’s midseason resignation.
“We’re excited to have him a part of the Wolverine community,” Helmick said. “At the end of the day, we want the best candidates to work with our student-athletes, and we feel like he has a strong background and knowledge in the game of baseball and that he’ll be a good role model for our student-athletes.
“I think it’s a solid recipe for success.”
Johnson, 33, pitched at Division II Bloomsburg (PA), then joined his alma mater’s staff for two seasons in 2010-11. He would later coach for three years at Binghamton, helping the New York school win two America East Conference championships to earn automatic berths in the NCAA Tournament. In 2014, he joined Gregg Ritchie’s staff at George Washington before being hired by San Diego, who he’d serve as a full-time Mid-Atlantic Region scout for from the fall of 2015 until last year.
Ironically, it was Johnson who scouted former West Potomac right-hander Jamie Sara and sold the Padres in taking him in the 12th round of the Major League Baseball Draft in 2016. Sara decided against signing, choosing instead to pitch at William & Mary. He was selected in the 25th round by Philadelphia in this year’s draft and is pitching in the Phillies’ system.
Once Johnson’s wife, Tara, had their first child, he decided to leave scouting and take a position with Fairfax County Public Schools as a third grade teacher at Fort Belvoir Elementary School. That allowed him to be home more rather than constantly on the road while scouting.
“Being a dad became super important,” said Johnson, who has a bachelor’s in elementary education and a master’s in instructional technology. “I had to re-evaluate where I was, and wanting to get off the road and have an impact with kids led to teaching. And in being around the kids, I realized I missed coaching and missed being on the field.”
At West Potomac, he takes the reins of a program that has produced winning campaigns in six of its past seven seasons. The Wolverines will return three first-team all-district players in shortstop Aidan Sanderson, outfielder Justin Bassett and left-hander Adam Fischer, who has committed to pitch at William & Mary.
“My intentions are to win and build on their success and build a program that people want to be a part of,” Johnson said. “I want kids to want to come play baseball at West Potomac. I want to be a rock for these kids, someone who is consistent, someone they can trust.
“I’m super happy about this opportunity, super thankful for the people I’ve worked for in the past.”
Photos of Dustin Johnson courtesy of Binghamton Athletics