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Editor and Contributing Writer

Featured photograph: St. Landry Parish new Athletic Director Clarissa Johnson.

Presiding over a variety of sports activities is nothing new for newly-hired St. Landry Parish Athletic Director Clarissa Johnson.

Johnson was born into a family where sports was prevalent and athletic participation was encouraged.

A brother is a Baton Rouge-area athletic director and Felix Johnson the legendary Northside High basketball coach, is her uncle.

Johnson is no stranger to administrating athletic duties, since she is formerly a 16-sport athletic director at Baton Rouge’s McKinley High as well Northside.

There is also no issue Johnson says, when it comes to working with boys’ sports.

“I have been in situations where I have worked in a male dominated environment. So coming in and having to oversee (St. Landry athletics) where there are male sports actually puts me in my comfort zone. I have always been active in sports and I have brothers who were involved in sports also,” said Johnson, who was introduced Wednesday to the parish public school athletic directors.

Johnson has also played sports and her first position in athletics was as a UL-Lafayette track assistant. In addition to coordinating athletic activities in St. Landry, Johnson is also working on her doctorate in sports administration.

Several formal introductions to parish coaches will not be necessary, said Johnson since he was a head volleyball coach at Northwest High from 2009-12.

Newly-hired J.S. Clark Leadership Academy athletic director and boys’ basketball coach Ross Rix also worked with Johnson during the five years that she was employed at the Northside athletic director.

Improving athletic facilities

Johnson is cognizant of the poor condition of some parish athletic facilities, especially the basically six unusable outdoor tracks at the six St. Landry high schools.

Although Johnson realizes that there is little current funding available for a total facility makeover, she is still going to attempt to make improvements with available revenues.

“I am going to look into what needs to be done and see if we can start the process of making the upgrades that we need. This parish has a lot to offer for high school athletes and that is one thing I am going to emphasize as I move around the parish and visit the high schools and their feeder schools,” said Johnson.

Johnson, who currently lives in the Carencro area, is also aware that many athletics zoned for St. Landry public schools, are leaving the parish attendance zones to participate in sports at private and parochial schools elsewhere.

One of her goals said Johnson, is to halt as much as possible the exodus of St. Landry athletes to other area schools.

Football Jamboree

Johnson said that Beau Chene High will host the 2022 St. Landry Public School Football Jamboree scheduled Aug. 26 at Donald Gardner Stadium.

The lineup of schools at this point include:

North Central and Port Barre (6 p.m.)

Opelousas High and Northwest (7:15)

Beau Chene and Eunice junior varsity (8:45)