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Rhondie Johanson will take over the reigns for the Union Bobcats girls basketball team this winter. (Paul Harder/The Observer)
Union ends search for girls basketball head coach by bringing back Johanson for the upcoming season
Clack... clack... Clack... That sound that startled spectators during basketball and volleyball seasons past returns to Union this winter.
Rhondie Johanson was named the Bobcats girls basketball head coach, taking over for Tessa Mullinix (Nicholson). Along with Johanson will be the notorious sound of her heel smashing against the hardwwood during those tense Blue Mountain Conference moments this season.
“Basketball has always been by passion,” Johanson said. “I love all athletics, but basketball is where my heart lies.
“And I love coaching, It’s the right time in my life with my kids being a little bit older. That’s one of the reasons I stepped down in the first place. I wanted to be at home with them and be more of a mom.”
One of her children, Delanie Kohr, an incoming freshman, helped in the decesion process.
“We sat down before I even put in for the job. I think it can be hard to split both coaching and then life after practices. I wanted to talk to her first because that relationship as a mom comes first. She was in full support of me taking the job and has encourged me to do it. The demands will be the same for her, and she’ll recieve the same amount of respect as the other players.”
She already has a sense of the group she’s inherited for next season. Johanson coached them during summer league when Mullinix was in the process of moving to California.
“I served more as a bus driver than as a coach,” Johanson said. It was great to be able to see them in that setting, though.
“It was very competitive at Oregon State. They got great instruction and went up aginast great competition. The girls got to see what they’re up against next season. We played against teams that they played during the season. Those other teams remembered jerseys, numbers and names of our players. I guess that’s a good thing. It means the girls are reaching their goals.”
Unlike previous stints coaching with the Bobcats, Johanson will have the reigns all to herself this season.
She’s served as an assistant basketball coach and a co-head volleyball coach. Now the weight is all falling on her shoulders.
“Im very excited about it. There are high expectations with this group of girls which adds pressure. This team is phenomenal. We all know where they finished the last season, and they want to keep it going.
“There’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve as I get to learn the strengths and tendencies. It always an adjustment getting a new head coach. I wish I traveled to more games now. I wasn’t paying attention the way I would if I was coaching.”
I watched them as a fan at home last season, but I wasn’t paying attention the way I would if I was coaching.”
Johanson takes pride in being a Bobcat to the core. She played high school sports in Union and modestly talks about her game.
“It’s a neat thing to be able to play at a school and then get a chance to coach later on in life.”
Just beacuase former coach Tessa Mullinix isn’t coaching anymore doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about the girls she’s coached the last six seasons.
“This group of girls is amazing,” Mullinix said. “It’s not the athleticism that astounds me the most. It’s the heart and the toughness that they showed out on the court each game.”
Mullinix stepped down after getting married this offseason. Her husband, Randy, received a promotion prompting the move to California.
“It wasn’t something that we were expecting at all,” Mullinix said. “I was a little blindsided, and was still trying to find ways to be able to coach. In the end I just had to do what was right for everyone.”
Mullinix made the hard decision to step down. Something that to this day, a few months later, brings her to tears.
She doesn’t plan to stop following her former team.
“I’ll be checking in on them after each game, and trying to read the paper to see how they’re doing,” Mullinix said. “They still asked me if I’ll be sending pre-game texts and calling them. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go that far.
“But, I’ll continue to support them as much as I can and be their biggest
The Bobcats will not have a senior on the roster for next season.