Ask the AD - Dana Johnson, Dunbar High School

This summer, CSZ will be doing a segment on the WICKipedia entitled "Ask the AD". In this feature, we'll be conducting Q&A's with various athletic directors around Maryland to learn more about how different high schools run their athletic programs, and what to expect from them in the future.

Today we're featuring Dana Johnson from Dunbar High School in Baltimore City! During our conversation Dana spoke about how she became Dunbar's AD, how the athletic department educates its current student-athletes about the school's sports tradition and what her favorite part of her job is!

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County Sports Zone:How did you become athletic director at Dunbar? How did your appointment come about?

Dana Johnson:One of my mentors, Barbara Allen, who was the AD at the time was retiring from the system. She expressed to me that she'd like for me to interview for the position and she thought I would be good for Dunbar. With her encouragement and support, I went for it.

CSZ:How has the job changed since you started? How has it stayed the same?

DJ:When I first started the position as athletic director, I began at a small school- Southside Academy. Because Southside was a new school and a small school, I pretty much had to build the entire program- from implementing sports and finding the right coaches.

Since being at Dunbar, it is a different animal. I came into a well-established athletic program, so my main goals were to continue to build the program by adding some non traditional sports and building the girls programs.

One thing that will never change for me is that my purpose is to help develop young people for whatever their next stage in life may be- whether it's for college or for the workforce. No matter where I am, that will always be my purpose.

CSZ:Dunbar is a school with a storied athletic tradition. How do you and the athletic department try to let this generation of athletes know about the Poets' past triumphs?

DJ:One of the great things at Dunbar is that a good number of my coaches are Dunbar grads. They know and have lived the history and tradition. They let the student-athletes know what Dunbar Athletics is all about. Also, former graduates come back to give back.

CSZ:How would you rate this past year for Dunbar Athletics? Were there a couple highlights that stand out?

DJ:Our biggest accomplishment this past school year was our wrestling program. They made history this year. They were City Champs for the second year in a row and were the first team in Baltimore City history to be regional champs. All of this happened with an interim coach who stepped in when the original coach was unable to coach. The young men stepped up to the challenge and stayed focused the entire season.

CSZ:What's the sports culture like at Dunbar?

DJ:Of course football and basketball are the biggest sports so they are the biggest draw, but athletics is where you can find a diverse group of people. Athletics draws everyone together for one purpose- to support the Poets.

CSZ:What're a couple things you've accomplished while Dunbar AD that you are most proud of?

DJ:Being a former student-athlete, I know what participating on athletic teams can do for you. So one of my goals was to provide more opportunities for young ladies to participate. Over the years, I have been able to provide JV programs for volleyball, softball and badminton, as well as varsity soccer and lacrosse programs for girls.

CSZ:What do you enjoy most about your job?

DJ:The best part of my job is graduation day when you see your student-athletes walk across that stage to receive their diploma. To know that you have been a part of that journey makes it all worth it.

CSZ:How do you view the role of an athletic director within a high school community?

DJ:An athletic director is an integral part of the school community. Athletics can unify a building and the athletic director should be a major part of that.

CSZ:Is there anything new or exciting we should be on the look out for from the Dunbar athletic department?

DJ:Right now, everything is quiet. Some of our programs are rebuilding so we don't know what we have until we are able to start practicing.
July 19th, 2016By: Wick Eisenberg

County Sports Zone provides the schedules, scores and standings for 208 public high schools across Maryland, Pennsylvania and Illinois.
We post the score of every game - varsity, junior varsity, freshman - by 11 o’clock every night.