Steve Johnson epitomizes Coach of the Year qualities

USA TODAY Sports

Bethel University's Steve Johnson continues to stay in the Coach of the Year mix for his on and off the field approaches alike.

Bethel's Steve Johnson has been a staple in the Division 3 (and Arden Hills/Minneapolis) communities for over two decades now. After playing himself for the Royals from 1974-1977, a successful high school coaching career (and GA stint with the home state Golden Gophers) paid off with Johnson returning to campus to lead his alma matter. He's been there for the last 25 years ever since.

Pushing his team towards a platform of gratefulness, toughness, and devotion, Johnson doesn't just inspire his players to be leaders on the field, he molds them for success for years to come off it, as well. Since taking over at BU, his football program has risen to national D3 prominence and are routinely in the mix for the MIAC title.

During Johnson's 25 years, the Royals have pulled in over 173 career wins, four MIAC championships, and seven NCAA Division III playoff appearances. At 9-0, Johnson hasn't had a losing season in over 20 years. You don't see many Division III level players make it to the professional ranks, but offensive lineman Mitch Elliot and linebacker Cory Svihla both made Minnesota Vikings rookie camps after outstanding careers as Royals.

This isn't Johnson's first rodeo, either. In 2010 and 2011 alike, he was a Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year finalist. At the time, Liberty Mutual's senior vice president for Consumer Marketing, Greg Gordon, had the following to say about Johnson:

"Each year, we ask fans to vote for the coaches who best exemplify the award's characteristics - sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence, on and off the field. Steve Johnson does just that, through his success on game days, as well as providing leadership to his student-athletes and commitment to the greater Bethel community."

Bethel's SID, Jared Johnson, shared similar sentiments:

"In a time where many people measure success only by wins and losses, we are thrilled to have our own Coach Johnson named as a Coach of the Year finalist. Coach Johnson does just as much for his student-athletes and community off the field, as he does on the field, which gives Bethel fans and alumni something to be proud of. Now our fans just have to keep voting for Bethel to bring home the trophy, and to support his charities and our school."

With Johnson potentially in the mix for his third finalist role, it's up to Bethel (and DIII football alike) fans to help make that a reality.

Help support Coach Johnson for Liberty Mutual's Coach of the Year Award, whose dedication and commitment are felt beyond the field of play, helping to promote academic excellence among their student-athletes and through charitable acts in their communities. You can back him at CoachofTheYear.com, or submit your vote on Facebook at Facebook.com/LMCoachoftheYear.

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