Basketball Man


Kyle Gagnon

Alfred Johnson

Alfred Johnson is the head men’s basketball coach at NVU-Johnson, as well as the assistant athletic director for the Johnson campus.

What do you love most about coaching basketball?
I love the interaction with student athletes. I love being around future genius. I love being around people that have a chance to make an impact on the world. I absolutely love that part about coaching.

What advice do you have for any aspiring coaches out there?
They will need to understand that the fullness of this business is time consuming. It is something you have to be all in on, because you’re involved with helping young adults, and that includes their families, to achieve important goals at this stage in their lives. It is a bigger responsibility than just coaching games and practices.

What is your favorite comfort food?
Shrimp. No. Wait a second… I’m going to go with a turkey sandwich. I love shrimp but I can eat a turkey sandwich every day. If I’m on death row, I’m going with a turkey sandwich for my last meal.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
The best piece of advice I ever got was from my parents. They told me, “You better not mess up with that girl.” That girl they were referring to is now my wife. That was a great piece of advice.

What is your proudest accomplishment?
Any time a group of our basketball players graduates. That is my crowning achievement every time. To know that we’re making an example that shows our guys the way to a better life. That is what my team strives for as mentors and coaches. We’re given the task of making them better people, better men, better future husbands, better employers. The whole nine yards. So again, when they graduate. That is my crowning achievement because we’re getting them ready for the real world.

What is your favorite thing about Vermont so far?
No potholes and no traffic. Philadelphia traffic is terrible. We got potholes. I love that I can just drive without looking out for potholes or being stuck in traffic.

What is one thing that everybody should do once in their lives?
One thing everybody should do is complete their education. I’m a big believer in educational empowerment. Having a degree, master’s or even a doctorate if you’re able to. A good education can, in many ways, just make you more employable. You’ll be in a better position to understand data and just have a greater understanding of complex material. Completing your education can give you the freedom to do whatever is you want to do in your life, so I think it is an important thing for people to aim for.

What is your guilty pleasure?
I can’t do it right now, but my guilty pleasure would be sitting at home watching TV with a beer. Just doing absolutely nothing. Doing nothing productive. Just watching sports and having a beer.

What is the worst piece of advice you have ever received?
When I was a teenager, I remember going out with a girl and somebody who shall remain nameless told me that if I didn’t like her, I could always go out with her sister. That comment has always stuck out in my mind as just one of the dumbest things I have ever heard in my life.

What is one thing that you cannot live without?
My wife. She is the sweetest, kindest, person I know. She makes every day I am with her a great one. I really don’t know what I would do without her. She is everything to me.

What is more important to you, defensive rebounding or team free throw percentage?
Defensive rebounding. No question. One of our goals is to control the glass and be efficient with our physical output. We don’t want to expend energy defending after we fail to collect a rebound. Especially if you can get the first rebound that means they’re limited to one shot, if that. Free throws are important but as a coach I feel that I have a greater influence when getting my guys to rebound.

What is your ultimate travel destination?
Paris. My wife has always wanted to go, and I would love to be able to take her someday. She deals with me, so it is really the least I can do for her.

What is your favorite non-basketball sport?
Football. Being from Philly, I’m a huge Eagles fan. I love when I get to tune in on Sunday.

What is your biggest pet peeve?
I have no patience for men who downgrade women or children. Any man who would put his hands on or disrespect a woman or child is not somebody that deserves the time of day.

Who is your favorite athlete of all time?
I grew up with a guy named Timmy Claxton. He was my hero and just the best basketball player. He played at Germantown High School and Temple University but unfortunately died from a rare heart disease in his early 20s. But he was the best basketball player I’ve ever seen. He was a great shooter, and he had a tremendous work ethic. I was fortunate that when he was in high school, he took me under his wing and really taught me a lot about the game and about life.


What is your favorite genre of music?
Jazz. I really am a true diehard fan. I love jazz and I’ve been listening to Ella Fitzgerald since before I was in high school. I love her voice. She is really a fantastic singer. I just love everything about her.

If you couldn’t work in athletics, what do you think you’d like to do?
I think I would like to be a comedian. I just think laughter is a wonderful part of life. Making people laugh and just making myself laugh; I would love to be a comedian. I always tease my wife about that. Whenever I bring us the topic, she is just flat out against it. She hears enough of me at home.

Who has been your biggest role model?
My biggest role model has been my high school coach, David Felsen. I had known him before high school. I played for him. He had my dream job. My dream was that I would become the varsity coach in my high school, and I did eventually get that job with his help when he vacated the position. I remember sitting around his house, we’d listen to jazz and play chess and just talk. He’s just a fantastic role model and was a hell of a coach. And I just love the impact he had on my life.