BILLINGS — Not many people hang it up when they're on top, but that's exactly what Billings West's Charlie Johnson is doing.
After winning a State AA title with the Golden Bears girls basketball team earlier this month, Johnson has stepped down as coach of the program.
"I didn't want to make it about me. It's always about the kids for us. I didn't want to be any type of distraction, and maybe it wouldn't have, but it's one less thing to talk about," Johnson told MTN Sports.
Johnson didn’t tell the team until last week, but the senior class had a feeling it would be his final year. What a way for that group to go out. After a co-championship as freshman, West came up short in back-to-back years, making this year’s victory even sweeter.
“Sophomore year we didn't end how we wanted to and junior year we didn't end how we wanted to. Ending my senior year this way, it feels so amazing to go out on the highest note. The emotions have been so high since," senior Layla Baumann said.
“For them to just grind it out and fight — I thought we played hard and it was fun to watch. Seeing the raw emotion on their face, that's what was worth it. Just seeing all the hard work they've put in," Johnson said. "It's been a weird ride for them with school and daily lives with the Covid year."
So Johnson knew back in August this would be his last year, but he’s had a plan to pursue other opportunities in the Billings West school system.
“I love behind the scenes stuff and working in different capacities and being around different sports. I'm looking to kind of pursue that a little bit," Johnson said. "Our athletic director here at West (Doug Van Zee) is done, but I'm hopefully going to interview for that and see if I can help out in other areas where I can."
Johnson says the door isn’t fully closed on a return to the sidelines somewhere in the future, but he definitely hung it up in style.