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Rich Johns

Man with white mustache wearing a dark suit and tie

Rich Johns

Under the tutelage of Ron Lennox in basketball, and Stewart “Stew” Stearns and Larry Smith in tennis, Rich excelled in both sports. His most notable accomplishments include helping to lead his high school basketball team to two Northern Conference Championships and the tennis team to four Northern Conference Championships and a Section II team title. Rich won the Northern Conference Singles Championship three times and the Section II Singles Championship twice.

Attending Adirondack Community College for his freshman year of college, Rich lead the tennis team to a first ever national ranking, an NJCAA Regional team title, and a top national ranking. He won the NJCAA Region III Singles Championship.

Recruited to play basketball in 1969, Rich spent his next three years at SUNY Potsdam, graduating Cum Laude in 1972. Concentrating on tennis, Rich played the top position for three years at SUNY Potsdam, winning the SUNY Singles Championship in 1972.

During this time, at Potsdam, Rich met his wife of 43 years, Karen, who was a longtime teacher at Ballard Elementary School. Rich and Karen have one daughter, Nicole, who is a Resident Psychotherapist in the Capital Region.

Rich taught elementary and middle school for 38 years, coached tennis for 36 years and basketball for 18 years in the Saratoga Springs School District. His nationally recognized girls’ tennis program was traditionally among the top teams in New York State. Saratoga Girls’ Tennis still holds many NYS Section II records set during Rich’s leadership.

Rich was honored as the recipient of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Starfish Award (2009), given in recognition of his “no-cut” tennis program and his positive impact on hundreds of players. He was named the National High School Coach of the Year in 2010 by Racquet Sports Industry and the Saratoga Springs Rotary Education Foundation Award (2010) for his distinguished – exceptional leadership and commitment to education and community service. In January of 2011, the USTA-Eastern Section presented Rich with the High School Coach of the Year Award for the second time, the first being in 1985 for his exemplary leadership, enthusiasm, and team building skills. In 2014, he was inducted into the Saratoga Springs School District Sports Hall of Fame.

Now retired, Rich has rapidly become a nationally sought-after speaker, bringing his not for profit organization, Act With Respect Always, which is a “pay it forward” mission started in his sixth grade classes and tennis program, stressing the importance of personal character. It has been endorsed by many, including ESPN’s Dottie Pepper, NBA’s Jimmer Fredette, NFL’s Anthony Weaver, Richard Harwood of the Harwood Institute, and by Duke University Men’s basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K recently said that, “The Act With Respect Always program is making a huge, positive difference in the lives of many students.”