NEWTON, TX (KTRE) - W.T. Johnston lived his life to the very end inspiring everyone he came in contact with.
The former Newton Eagle football coach passed away Saturday night. He stepped down from the Head Football Coach/ Athletic Director job in April while he continued to battle chronic lung disease and blindness.
Johnston was more than a football coach. He was a husband, a father and a grandfather to his own family. He was a father figure to players and students who did not have one. He was a preacher who would lead church at his home and try to inspire others even when he struggled.
Johnston took over the Newton football program eight years ago and led the team to a 97-15 with 2 State Championships.
In April Johnston was in attendance for the team’s ring ceremony. He openly talked about his struggles.
“You can’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself. Feeling sorry for yourself is not going to make your blindness go away or your lung problems go away. I get down at night. I am no different than anybody else. Late at night when it is just me I get down. I pray a lot. I bet 70 % of the day I am talking about the Lord. That is how I find my strength.”
This past December, Newton won their second straight state championship with a win over Canadian. After the game Jonhston gave an emotional post game interview. It was an interview, months earlier he didn’t know if he would make.
“I get to see how I am impacting people before I die,” Johnston said. "I know I am going to die. "Most of you won’t get that chance. You will have a heart attack or die in a car crash or something and never see it coming. I’ve been given a gift. “I’ve been given a great life. It is about what you do with it. I try to not just talk about x’s and o’s. I try to talk about life. Everyone is going to experience it one day. The lord has shown me so many great things through this and I hop I have shown these guys. I hope they come back and see me in five years and they have kids and they have a good life. That’s what means more to me than anything else.”
On April 22, Newton announced Johnston’s son Drew would be taking over his father’s position.
Newton ISD Superintendent Michelle Barrow released the following statement:
On, May 11, 2019, former Athletic Director and Head Coach William T. (WT) Johnston passed away. Newton ISD was blessed to have employed Coach Johnston for 26 years, six years as the athletic director and head coach. During his career at Newton ISD the athletic department has flourished. Not only has Coach Johnston made an impact on the athletic department but he has had influence on the community of Newton as well. His determined strong faith has inspired many. He is known in East Texas as well as across the country for his work in athletics and his encouragement to others to never give up but to cling to God and his Word. Newton ISD will miss him dearly. On behalf of the family and the district it is requested that individuals and all media respect the privacy of Coach Johnston’s family, our students, staff, and the Newton community. The school schedule will not be interrupted, our elementary and middle school students will have their STAAR tests next week as scheduled.