Devaughn Johns was one of the best men’s soccer players in the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference for Geneva College last fall, but he’s hoping to make his impact felt in a different way for the Golden Tornadoes next season.
Johns, a Midd-West graduate, exhausted his eligibility but will help coach Geneva next season as he finishes his undergraduate degree.
“I’m going to be an ‘assistant assistant coach’ — that’s what I call it,” Johns said. “I’m looking at it as a way to help where I left off and give back to what I had.”
Johns said he didn’t expect the transition from teammate to coach to be too difficult.
“I talked to a few of the now-seniors to see what they thought before I took the position,” Johns said. “They were all for it.”
“I’m going to have to roll with the punches. I’m going to demonstrate that I’m there to do a job, which is to help them be the best they can be.”
On the field last fall, Johns was the anchor of a Geneva defense that allowed the fewest goals in the PAC.
“We were a very stingy group, and Devaughn was a linchpin in that,” Geneva coach Gary Dunda said. “The eventual player of the year in our conference was an attacking player at Westminster, and we played them twice — and shut them out both times. And Devaughn completely handcuffed their top three, which was a very dynamic top three. There was no way he was being beaten. His determination, along with his competitiveness and athletic ability — I’d like to say he was a man among boys.”
Dunda said Johns was the most dynamic athlete in the conference his senior season.
“My thing is I’m all about legs,” Johns said. “I loved working out my legs — squats, deadlifts, running hills. I wanted to make sure I was getting faster and was able to jump higher.”
Johns was able to leverage that athleticism to make life difficult on opposing attackers.
“I don’t want shots on the net,” Johns said. “If our keeper doesn’t face shots, than the other team can’t score. I wanted to control the back line and make sure everything went smoothly. For me it was a defense first, and then everything else came after.”
Johns was a first team all-conference selection, and was named to the All-Great Lakes Region second team.
“I think he was deserving this year to be player of the year in our conference — I think he was second place — but I think he was the most physically dominant player in our conference this year,” Dunda said. “Devaughn was a rock in the back at center back.”
Despite his defensive focus, Johns also tied for the team lead with three assists.
“I tried to use the abilities I had to my advantage,” Johns said, noting his speed helped him going forward.
Now Johns will hope to use his coaching abilities to the Golden Tornadoes’ advantage.