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Johnson Ready To Carry Women's Golf Tradition

By Brian Rosenthal

Lisa Johnson is just the fourth head coach of Nebraska women’s golf in 45 years, as she replaces Robin Krapfl, who retired in the spring after 32 years leading the Huskers. Johnson comes to Lincoln from the University of Idaho, where she led the Vandals to three NCAA Regional appearances and two Big Sky Conference titles in 2016 and 2018. Johnson was a two-time WAC Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2012, and she earned her PGA Class A Professional status in 2016. Her husband is John Johnson, who joined Nebraska in July as Senior Deputy AD – Chief of Staff after he served as the Senior Associate Athletic Director at Washington State. Lisa visited with Brian Rosenthal of Huskers.com in this question-and-answer session.

BR: What most attracted you to come to Nebraska?

Johnson: “The opportunity to coach in the Big Ten, a power five conference, and I was extremely impressed once I arrived to campus with the support the student-athletes receive. And the rich tradition of athletic success through the decades here.”

BR: What are the challenges in following in the footsteps of someone with the legacy of Robin Krapfl?

Johnson: “Robin did a really good job here for 32 years and it’s an honor to carry on her regime and create my own. Thankfully, I’ve known Robin for a very long time. She’s been extremely helpful to me in the transition. It’s just important that I try to build relationships with all those players she coached for 30-plus years, to keep them involved in Husker golf. I believe Robin and I have very similar philosophies, so just to kind of carry on the tradition that she’s created and then build our own legacy.”

BR: What connections do you have with Bill Moos?

Johnson: “I’ve known Bill for quite some time, since marrying my husband. John and Bill have known each other for several decades. I’ve got to know him through the years and I’ve gotten to watch all the success that he’s had at every university he’s been afforded the opportunity to be an athletic director.”

BR: Have you had an opportunity to interact with your returning players, and your thoughts on the current team?

Johnson: “Yes, I’ve met everyone on the team except for Vanessa (Bouvet) because she’s overseas. I’m truly impressed with the work ethic of the team. Nearly everyone on the team played a very large, strong summer schedule, which I’m extremely impressed by. They seem to be very dedicated to improving their games and learning. Most of them seem to have a growth mindset, and I’m excited to coach all of them.”

BR: What resources does Nebraska have you can use in recruiting that maybe you haven’t had before in coaching?

Johnson: “Good question. As you know, we have a great Life Skills program, we have great academic support. I’ve never been at any other university that has a training table. We have sports psychologists on staff, we have an analytics team, I’ve not met yet with NAPL … just the support here is much more extensive than I’ve been used to, and it’s exciting to get the input and feedback from everyone who touches our program to help make us better.”

BR: What is the premise of your recruiting philosophy?

Johnson: “I want to recruit players who are passionate about the game, have a growth mindset and that want to win. After that, they need to be a good fit personality-wise, a strong academic student and really want to be at Nebraska.”

BR: How important are academics to you?

Johnson: “I think it’s important because that’s the ultimate reason student-athletes are in college athletics is to get their degree and compete in their sport second. I would like to see every student-athlete I coach excel in the classroom to their fullest ability.”

BR: Do you have to find some players who may be overlooked and turn them into better players after they get here?

Johnson: “Absolutely. I think even though we’re a power five conference school and in the Big Ten, where we’re at with the program right now, we still have to find diamonds in the rough to make us better.”

BR: How would you describe your coaching style?

Johnson: “I think I’m a player's coach. I’m very open-minded, into feedback – both directions, giving feedback, receiving feedback. Golf is such an individual game that it’s extremely important we coach each individual specific to their strengths and weaknesses. I try to create an atmosphere that’s fun, yet challenging. Every day we need to show up and get better. If everyone can do their own job – that’s the biggest challenge in golf, I believe, is we’re trying to play an individual sport as a team in college, and it’s a very exciting time. It’s four or five years out of a student-athlete's life that they have this opportunity in golf. As we know, it’s a life-long sport, but four or five years to play as team. That’s extremely important that the players still understand that they have to be responsible for their own game, and they have to do their job, and by doing their job, they help the team. It’s really easy to get too caught up in trying to help the team and trying to do too much for the team. They should just focus on doing their job.”

BR: Have you had a chance to check out any courses in or around Lincoln, and your thoughts?

Johnson: “I’m very excited with all of the courses we have an opportunity to play. I’ve been to Wilderness and I’ve been to Firethorn. I played the nine-hole short course at Wilderness; aside from that, I haven’t had the opportunity to play any of the courses yet. I’ve just seen facilities. But it’s great we have those two facilities, specifically, and then countless other golf courses in the area that are welcoming to us.”

BR: Who is your favorite golfer, ever, and why? 

Johnson: “Juli Inkster. She’s one of the greats that helped pave the way for women in her sport.”

Reach Brian at brosenthal@huskers.com or follow him on Twitter @GBRosenthal.

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