MERRY HILL n For some, retirement means riding off into the sunset.
For Truitt Johnston, retiring means switching fields n quite literally.
While Johnston coached his final game at the helm of the Lawrence Academy softball team last week, the coach who has four state title appearances to his credit won’t be going far. In fact, he’ll only be walking about 100 yards.
Johnston announced last week that he will step aside as the head coach of two-time state champion Lawrence Academy to become an assistant coach for the Warriors baseball program.
Johnston took over the Lady Warrior program two seasons ago upon the resignation of Gennia Winslow. He led the team to a state championship in 2005 and took the squad back to the title game this season.
But, with his daughter, Jessica, heading to college, the coach felt it was time to spend more time with his son, T.J.
“Robert (Kravitz) offered me an opportunity to help him with the baseball program when he came here,” Truitt Johnston said. “I didn’t do it at the time because of Jessica, but now that she’s heading to college, I owe it to my son to have more time with him.
“I’ve loved coaching these girls and I love softball,” he added. “It’s been a great four years that I’ve been involved with the softball program, but it’s time to make this change.”
Winslow, who had Truitt as her assistant for two years before leaving Lawrence, said the softball program had been exceptional under his direction.
“Truitt did an outstanding job,” Winslow said. “I’m proud of what he accomplished and how far he was able to take those two teams.
“He was good for the program and good for those who he taught the game of softball,” she added. “I’m sorry that he is giving it up, but I certainly understand why.”
For his part, Kravitz believes fully that the loss to the softball program will be a gain for the baseball squad.
“Coach (Tom) Hoggard and I have believed for a while that a third coach would be good for our program,” Kravitz said. “I know Truitt works well with the kids and we’re excited about what he brings to our program.”
What Johnston brings in particular, will be the championship level knowledge that the baseball program is working to build.
“He’ll definitely bring championship experience to us,” Kravitz said. “Winning two state titles in four years with the softball team proves that. He’s got good knowledge of the game.”
Kravitz said he was looking forward to having Johnston make the move and felt it came at a critical time as the Warriors graduate five seniors.
In his two years at the helm of the Lady Warriors, Johnston won 42 games. In those 40-plus wins, he secured two Tarheel Independent Conference regular-season and tournament championships, a state title and was honored twice as TIC Coach of the Year.
In 2005, he was named All-Roanoke-Chowan Softball Coach of the Year and was selected as the Roy Bond Coach of the Year by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. He had five players named All-State during that tenure.