Newly-hired Coast Union High School girls soccer head coach Sarah Johnston is starting her first season as a head coach with an optimistic attitude, and her goal is to elicit the same positivity from the 28 players who signed up to participate this fall.
Johnston has a Masters Degree in English Literature from Cal Poly, teaches AP Literature and ELD English courses for sophomores and seniors at Coast Union. She is the fifth girls soccer coach over the past five years.
She was preceded by Tamara Corbet (2014-15), Jack Mettier (2015-16), Victoria McConnell (2016-17), and Brooklin Brumund (2017-18).
“I’m hoping to bring some consistency here,” Johnston said in a recent interview. “I love Coast Union, and I plan to stay for awhile. I love the kids, and we’ve already been talking about next year.”
Johnston’s message to players is fundamental to her coaching style: “We’re here to practice. We want you to get better. We want you to have fun. You have four years of high school, and I’m going to help you do the best you can in soccer, in English or whatever.”
Will Johnston carry all 28 girls on the team?
“Right now my goal isn’t to cut anyone. It’s to make sure … we see improvement in practice, that people get some playing time (in practice) and that’s going to determine who is going to be on the field that week.”
Johnston is focusing, in part, on simplicity – and it starts with showing up to practice.
“I’m there to make sure they can improve, but if they’re not there to improve that’s not going to happen,” she said. “I want them all to show up, so I’m hoping that’s going to happen.
“… Kids tell me they’re enjoying practice and that’s good for me to hear.”
Probably the greatest emphasis that Johnston addresses in practice is conditioning.
“We have to be sure that players are ready and prepared for an entire game of running, because that’s what it’s going to be,” she said.
Johnston has had a variety of valuable and diverse career experience outside of playing soccer in high school and college.
After graduation from Cal Poly, she was hired by the university’s English Department for two positions: writing and rhetoric instructor (September 2016-June 2017); and as a tutor-counselor (January 2016-April 2018). She also taught college freshman composition.
Did she consider pursuing a full-time permanent position as a university instructor – instead of taking a high school teaching job with a lesser amount of compensation?
“I really liked teaching college students,” she replied. “But a lot of (basic writing skills) that I was teaching in those classes (at Poly) were skills that should have been learned a lot earlier…so I switched to high school.”
She also said she worked part-time in Los Angeles as a second assistant director for commercials, independent films and television programs; some of the projects she worked on can be viewed on Netflix. Did that work in the entertainment business tempt her to continue in that field?
Johnston explained that her undergraduate double major at UC Irvine was English and film.
After graduation “to pay the bills” she worked in the entertainment field. But the assignments were not full-time, so between gigs she was also employed as a substitute teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District, Burbank School District and the Orosi/Cutler District, among others.
“I ended up enjoying teaching more and more … so I ended up doing a career switch,” she said.
And now that she has settled into a career as a teacher and coach at Coast Union, she says, “These kids are so awesome – I am so blessed to work here.”