Coach Jim Johnson

Coach Jim Johnson

  • Inspirational keynote on the miracle of believing
  • Coach of the Year
  • Author of A Coach and a Miracle

Travels from Michigan

Keynote Fee: Contact Forte Speakers



Based on what transpired in a few short moments in early 2006, Coach Jim Johnson is now an authority on the subject of realizing your dreams. In his many public-speaking appearances, the Rochester, New York resident relates his role in a basketball game that got Hollywood calling. He also emphasizes the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship, delivering his talks with a heartfelt style that brings audiences to their feet.

Coach Johnson has developed winning high-school basketball teams for 27 years, taking over three losing varsity programs and turning them into winners in short periods of time. Of his 362 career victories, one in particular will surely never be duplicated.

On Feb. 15, 2006, Coach Johnson made the kindhearted gesture of inserting his autistic manager, Jason McElwain, now known to the world as J-Mac, into Greece Athena High School’s final home game, which the Trojans won 79-43. J-Mac scored 20 points in just over four minutes, including six three-point baskets, to become an instant national celebrity. Coach Johnson was featured in major news outlets around the country.

To make the Hollywood ending complete, Greece Athena captured the first Section V title of Coach Johnson’s career a few weeks later. A second sectional crown followed in 2007, and Coach Johnson then coached the Trojans to their third straight league title in 2008 by posting a perfect 12-0 record in league play, netting Coach of the Year honors. His success continued in 2009 with a league co-championship (34-2 league record over a three-season stretch) and third sectional title in four years, with an overall record of 20-5, his first-ever trip to the state quarterfinals and more Coach of the Year accolades. In the 2012-2013 season, his Trojans won the sectional title for the fourth time in eight years.

Coach Johnson has made a number of radio and television appearances, including the Oprah Winfrey and Jim Rome shows. In 2006 he met President George W. Bush, Governor George Pataki, and Senator Hillary Clinton, to name just a few luminaries.  NBA legend, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, visited the Athena team at school.      J-Mac’s magic moment won the ESPY for “Best Sports Moment” at the ESPN awards show later that year.

Coach Johnson was named Coach of the Year in 2006 by several Rochester-area organizations, and he was also presented with a National Sportsmanship Award. These honors brought to light an impressive body of work over the past two decades. His career record is now 362-216, with divisional titles in 1996, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and again in 2013. He had winning seasons in 19 of the last 20 years, finishing .500 the other year.


Dreams Really Do Come True

Coach Johnson lived one of the most inspiring and heart-warming stories of the 21st century. He shares his six essential keys: Passion, Mission, Goal Setting, Perseverance, Carpe Diem, and being a team player to help each audience member make their own dreams come true.

Leadership That Makes Dreams Come True

Using the remarkable story of J-Mac, Coach Johnson shares his six leadership keys that have guided his teams to immense success. The lessons in this presentation will help you become an extraordinary leader by learning to clarify your vision, build trust, create an edge, communicate effectively, lead by example, and leave a profit.


Dreams Really Do Come True (90 minutes to 4 hours)

This vision-oriented workshop guides participants through the six essential key principles which Coach Johnson used to lead his high school varsity basketball team to extraordinary success. In this workshop, participants discover how to help team members work from their strengths, value others and achieve breakthrough performance. This workshop affects the bottom line in both your personal and professional lives.

Dreams in Motion Leadership Development (90 minutes to 4 hours)

This innovative workshop helps participants see their vision more clearly, develop increased confidence in their abilities, and reach levels of leadership achievement previously thought impossible.


“Coach Johnson is a powerful communicator and delivered an incredibly inspiring message to my organization. He brings a wonderful mix of humor, poignancy and life experience that resonates and uplifts. Don’t miss an opportunity to hear him!” Shawn D. Moon, Executive Vice President, FranklinCovey

“Coach Johnson shared his inspirational story with our whole team of 225 employees and moved us to tears. Anybody who has seen the video of the game can’t help but be inspired by it. But what we found even more engaging about Coach Johnson’s presentation was “the story behind the story.” I can recommend him to any group as a speaker.” Marc Cenedella, CEO & Founder, The Ladders

“Jim’s story proves that if we as humans will strive to treat everyone with respect and dignity, that we can truly make a difference in their lives. Every person, young or old, can take a piece of Jim’s story and apply it to their personal situation, giving hope and meaning to the fact that

“DREAMS REALLY DO COME TRUE!” Tim McMulle, Head Football Coach, Head Basketball Coach

“It really was amazing to see someone capture an audience of 4,000 and have them transitioning from crying to laughter in an instant. We were very pleased with his performance and how he handled himself on and off the stage. In our eyes Coach Johnson’s speech added a missing link that we feel reached out to people in a way that we were unable to. In closing, we recommend him to anyone that is looking to motivate and inspire their group.” Jeff Higginson, Senior VP, Agel Americas

“Coach Jim Johnson  inspired many of us in the room. When I looked around the room that day,  the audience went from crying to laughter. To give someone an opportunity the way Jim Johnson did, can change someone’s life. He motivated us to never give up on your dreams and to keep striving towards your goals no matter what. I would recommend Coach Jim Johnson to be the speaker at any event that is looking to be motivated and inspired.” John Bucsek, MetLife, New Jersey

Being a coach  on the youth level for many years and listening to Coach Johnson speak, he has motivated me to be a better communicator and I will incorporate these life lesson to all my teams.” Peter Gelman, MetLife New Jersey

 “…Heart wrenching and uplifting all at the same time. The incredible story of a young man overcoming his limitations with a tremendous attitude makes one quickly appreciate their own “gifts” and one’s much weaker resolve. It was truly motivational to think about how this young man made his dream come true through sheer dogged determination. I asked myself, if I were in his situation, would I have been that driven or that undaunted by my limitations. I would hope to think I would, but I have never been tested, certainly not tested as he has.  I found myself shaking my head in complete admiration and thanking Coach Johnson for sharing this story and bringing a stoic hard head to tears.” Bruce Bickar