Community & CultureSports Partnerships
May 8, 2024
7 Minute Read

2024 Blue KC Coaches With Character Honoree Ken Johns – month of May

Johns is the retired football coach at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and the “C” You in the Major Leagues (CYITML) Foundation have announced retired Shawnee Mission Northwest High School Football Coach, Ken Johns, as the Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree for the month of May. His decades of coaching experience and accolades have helped create lifelong impacts on countless students who have gone on to excel in all avenues of their adult lives.

To label Johns as a decorated high school football coach would be an understatement. In addition to his on-field accomplishments at Shawnee Mission Northwest, he has also coached in a series of All-Star games and the Kansas Shrine Bowl. His sons, and even grandsons, were coached by Johns himself as they progressed through the education system. But football only scratched the surface. He has also successfully coached basketball, swimming, track and field, wrestling, and his second-joy behind football, girls’ softball.

“It is clearly a culminating honor to a career I have loved and been privileged to serve to many young people,” said Johns when asked about his emotions on being named a Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree. “It is both humbling and thrilling to accept this acknowledgement with tears in my eyes and with immense gratitude.”

KANSAS CITY, MO – May 7: Photo from a game between the Kansas City Royals and the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday May 7, 2024, in Kansas City, MO (Photo by Amy Kontras/ Kansas City Royals)

Prior to coaching, Johns tried out for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1964. He was the final player released after the 33-man roster was finalized. In 1967, he was offered a teaching and coaching position at Truman High School in Kansas City. He graciously accepted and moved to Kansas City from his original hometown in Philadelphia.

As his journey continued, Johns was ultimately named the first head football coach at Shawnee Mission Northwest and was able to successfully build the program into a perennial powerhouse with experienced student-athletes excelling both on and off the gridiron.

“We set the groundwork for achievement and supporting confidence,” said Johns. “Never quit, show up on time and be ready to play is our standard. Academics are important, there’s a dress code on game day, and stand tall remembering that you represent your school, your family, your team, your coaches, and most importantly the YOU that you choose to be in your life.”

This approach has helped foster a miles-long list of memorable moments that include being inducted as a Hall of Fame member at Shawnee Mission Northwest and maintaining friendships with past players and coaches.

“I was once advised that you can help a person improve by giving them the right tools and time to move ahead in their career with positive encouragement,” said Johns. “It’s important to never give up on a goal that you’ve established.”

The career goal that Johns tasked himself with was to be a role model and a leader among young men and women. It’s evident he’s accomplished that lifelong goal.

“I always wanted to be the best I could be,” said Johns. “Studying films, plays, counseling teens with family challenges, offering shelter when needed and to always be a helping hand for others. I stand tall as a Christian, with fairness and kindness, but also firmness when needed. I do my very best to listen with high expectations, complement others and encourage their daily improvement. Communication is the key to any relationship.”

“Coach Johns always brought respect and fair play to the field and treated the players with firm but caring authority,” said Johns’ nominator, Kimber Eubanks. “He used constant instruction and encouragement to make every player better. This unique skill seems to permeate to the very core of his being, as does his unending desire to teach and inspire others to bring out the best within themselves, even to this day. Shawnee Mission Northwest football players are able to hold our heads high because we have tasted success, and have done it with integrity, because that’s what Coach Johns taught us. He stands as an example of what being a coach and instructor is all about.”

“To say Coach Johns has impacted hundreds of lives within the Kansas City community would be an enormous understatement,” said Christina Lively, Blue KC Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “His successful resumé, which spans many decades, is a perfect example of building, sustaining, and enjoying the art and beauty of coaching and educating student-athletes. Recognizing Coach Johns as a Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree is a privilege for our team and we are proud to help spread his remarkable career accomplishments to our local community. Congratulations!”

Blue KC Coaches with Character recipients are honored monthly at Kauffman Stadium during Kansas City Royals home games, and fans are encouraged to nominate high school coaches who are making a positive impact on their schools and communities by using the form online at

Blue KC supports the Kansas City community through impactful sports partnership programs.

Blue KC Coaches With Character Program

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