By Tom Behrens
The Katy ISD board members in a recent meeting unanimously voted to name the second Katy ISD stadium Mike Johnston Field at Legacy Stadium.
“It’s an honor, not for just myself, but for my family to have our family name attached to a facility,” Coach Johnston said in a recorded interview at the almost completed new stadium. It’s also a tribute to the coaches I had work with me through those years. It’s also for the outstanding players I had at Katy during that time. It’s an honor and a tribute both and overall just a great blessing.”
He said he had no inkling that his name was going to be on the stadium. “I didn’t know anything about it. I had never thought about anything like this happening.”
The Mike Johnston-Katy ISD Connection:
Beginning in 1982, Johnston guided the Katy Tigers program for the next 22 years ending his tenure following the 2003 season and a third State Championship – winning titles also in 1997 and 2001.
When things began, Johnston’s Tigers went a combined 4-26 overall in his first three years. The next 19 years Johnston’s Tigers recorded and overall record of 196-49, 12 District Championships, and three State Championships.
During an extended weather delay a couple years back I had the chance to visit with Coach Johnston in the press box at Rhodes Stadium and listen to him reminisce about his coaching career.
“It was kind of rough those first few years,” Johnston said. “Once we got kids buying into what we were asking them to do and our staff became more established, it all came to fruition. The community was always supportive and of course when you start winning it just excites the community even more. Of course Coach (Gary) Joseph took over and he’s even taken it to another level. It’s a pleasure for me to be indirectly associated with what’s going on.”
Since retiring from Katy High School in 2003, Johnston hasn’t strayed far from the program he helped build into what it is today. During the weekdays, at times, Johnston can be found having a morning coffee with Coach Gary Joseph, watching practice, and then on gameday settling into his seat up in the press box.
The new stadium will seat 2,232 more fans than the current 9,768-seat Jack Rhodes Memorial Stadium, which sits right next to it, giving it a maximum capacity of 12,000. Improved roads around the stadium, a 4,000-space parking lot and a $1.8 million video replay board are also some of the amenities to come with the new stadium.
Between Mike Johnston Field at Legacy Stadium and Rhodes Stadium, games will be confined to the evenings only, no more Saturday day games. As Coach Johnston said, the heat coming off the artificial turf can be brutal to both players and fans in the stadium during the day games.
Mike Johnston Field at Legacy Stadium will have more uses than for just football. Drill teams and bands will have a place to showcase their talents at both the games and the different UIL contests throughout the year. Soccer games in 2017-2018 will also have the opportunity to be played in the new facility.
The price tag for the stadium pushed past the $70-million mark in the fall coming, to a total cost of $70.3 million for the facility. Johnston reported in another interview that he was aware of the concern for the overall cost of the stadium.
“When you had to start from scratch, which they did, we had no infrastructure or anything. If you’re going to be competitive, if you’re going to be in the hunt you have to show that you’re supporting what’s going on in your district. I think this is probably a good physical example that our school district supports our kids in competition.”
Where will Coach Johnston be at the start of the 2017 football season?
Of course, Johnston will be in attendance at the football games. “Oh yes, I make the games at Rhodes right now, I don’t miss many games,” Johnston said. “Starting Thursday nights, I’m usually there. If they’re looking for me in the fall, they’ll know where to find me.”