Late last year, Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School inducted 12 new members of the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame.

Late last year, Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School inducted 12 new members of the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame.

We continue to take a longer look at those inductees.

Theo Johnson: “Walk a mile as a Shark”

Since 1970, it can only be estimated, but it’s probably safe to say, Theo Johnson has walked approximately 40 miles along the sidelines as a weekly fixture – part of the Chain Gang at home Port St. Joe football games.

Like so many others that came to make Port St. Joe their home, Theo and his family came here for the promise of a job. After graduating from Altha High School, Theo joined the Navy, and after a four-year stint on active duty, took a job with St. Joe Paper Company. Port St. Joe is where he would plant his roots and start a family.

Theo will tell you that it was about 1970 that he became “hooked” on all Shark athletics. The 1970 and 1971 Shark teams would go on to take state runner-up and win the state title, respectively.

The entire town was abuzz about Port St. Joe football. The Shark football success of the early 70’s in many ways laid the foundation for the success still experienced today. Since that time, Theo Johnson has been one of only a few constants still a part of the program. He has seen too many Shark games to count. To quote Theo, “Thank you, Port St. Joe High School, for adopting me and making me part of the Gulf County School System. I will always do the very best to conduct myself with the same example you set. Let’s all work together and support the Sharks in all student activities on and off the playing field. Let’s make this a great year!”

Tonight, in his 46th season, Theo Johnson will be taking his appropriate position at Shark Field on the visitor’s sidelines where he and his crew will hold chains and down marker, tracking direction of the ball and possession.

 

 

William Lane: Laughter, Confidence, Loyalty

It’s been nearly three decades since William Lane retired. To those of us that were young then, we recall the fond memories of the 1970’s and 1980’s Port St. Joe High School to include the gentleman from Apalachicola, Coach William Lane.

During his tenure at Port St. Joe High School, Coach Lane coached Physical Education, “some” baseball, “some” football, and a whole lot of basketball.

His teams were known for their tenacious “Hawk” defense. Coach Lane was an innovator; his coaching style brought out the best in his players who literally were known for running a suffocating defense and a fast-paced offense. Coach demanded excellence on and off the court from his players, and in exchange, he was fiercely loyal to his players, students, and school.

Anyone that was a student in those days might quickly recall that Coach Lane used plenty of humor and wit in his teaching and coaching. A Coach Lane quip could quickly assess a situation, dispel an opponent, and create an atmosphere that seemed to lighten the moment and put things in better perspective, thus instilling confidence and motivating his players and students.

Coach, Teacher, Mentor, and Pioneer are all descriptive words of William Lane. That he left an impression upon so many lives is clear, and he was also the first African-American Head Coach at Port St. Joe High School.

From a basketball perspective, it could be said that the modern era of Port St. Joe High School basketball started under the William Lane-coached teams in the mid 70’s. Though by the 1980’s he had taken a step back from the head coaching helm, it wasn’t a very big step back. The 1981 Shark state championship made both Lane, an assistant coach, and Head Coach Jim Belin into coaching legends.

Over the span of the last three decades, Shark basketball has become its own great success and known throughout the state. The cornerstone that it was built upon is from the lasting legacy of people like Coach Lane. Coach lane left a legacy of hustle, heart, class, and achievement for Port St. Joe High School, and in the immortal lyrics by the Commodores, “Celebrate Good Time – Come on...” epitomizes him and the teams he was a part.