The 2018 season will likely be W.T. Johnston’s last as a coach, because doctors gave him eight months to live before the season started. Johnston a rare disease graft-versus-host after a double lung transplant in 2015 and now coaches with a nasal cannula.
If this is really it for Johnston, he went out the right way — and not because he led Newton, a town of 2,500 in far East Texas, to a second straight Class 3A Division II state championship on Thursday. After defeating Canadian to win the crown, Johnston was interviewed by Fox Sports Southwest and gave a message that is one of the best you’ll ever see.
“We got together in August, right before we started practicing, and I told them I probably wouldn’t make it through the season,” Johnston said. “I was only given eight months to live, and I wanted them to be aware of what was going on. And then we got going, there was about two or three weeks during the season I didn’t think I was going to make it, and we talked about that. I always told them this was the last lesson I was going to teach them… is how to live before you die. Where do you put your strength, and where do you put your belief?
“The Lord has done so much for me, it’s unbelievable what Jesus has let me do and see through these kids.”
“I tell everybody, I’ve been given a great gift,” he continued. “People don’t understand that. I’ve been given a gift to see how my life could affect people before I die. These guys, they’ve touched my life…. They talked about wanting to win for me, this is their time. I’ve had my time. I told them, ‘Do it for your teammates, do it for you.’ They’ll always remember this. This will be a special time. If I’ve done right, a part of me is going to live in them.
This is one of the most powerful postgame messages you'll ever hear.
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) December 21, 2018