By Rob Kiser
COVINGTON —For more than 20 years, Roger Craft has kept the Covington High School athletic programs running at a high level — both as a athletic director and coach.
During that time, the Buccs have enjoyed much success, including multiple state champions in track and wrestling, a football team that competed with the best in the state year-in and year-out, cross country teams that regularly qualify for state, a softball program that has made multiple Final Four appearances and baseball, volleyball, golf and basketball teams that have experienced plenty of success.
So, it seems only fitting that someone who was a big part of that success would be hired to replace Craft next fall after he retires.
Covington native Ashley Johnson was recently hired as the next athletic director for the Buccs.
“Ashley (Johnson) is a former student of mine and she knows the program well,” Craft said. “She knows the program, she is from the community. She was born and raised in Covington.”
During her time at Covington, she played for multiple district champions in basketball and the team had an 83-15 record in her four years.
Johnson was also the first Covington girls golfer to qualify for district — at a time when there was only one division in girls golf.
She rewrote the record book in girls golf, owning the lowest stroke average for a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior.
Johnson also has the two lowest nine hole scores shot for Covington girls golf of 35 and 36.
As you might expect, she is also a member of the Covington Athletic Hall of Fame.
Johnson went on to be a standout golfer for Ohio Northern University and earned a bachelor’s degree in management.
Johnson, who has been the Franklin Monroe athletic director for the last four years, said the decision was an easy one.
“Covington is a school full of tradition and has a really positive vibe,” Johnson said. “I am familiar with the school and know a lot of people.”
Johnson said her time at Franklin Monroe was valuable in gaining experience.
“I have learned a lot in my four years at Franklin Monroe,” Johnson said.
During that time, not only has FM continued its excellence in athletics, Johnson was part of the opening of a new high school gym and also served as sectional tournament manager in both girls golf and basketball.
“We had a lot of great applicants,” Craft said. “Ashley (Johnson) has done a good job at Franklin Monroe. She definitely knows her stuff.”
Johnson sees both the positives and negatives of being so familiar with the Covington community.
“I think it can work both ways,” Johnson said. “I think it is a good thing because I know a lot of people, but at the same time it is a situation where people because they know me, may walk up to me and say hey, have you ever thought about doing something like this.”
And Johnson knows Craft will be there for any help that might be needed.
“Roger and I have a good relationship,” Johnson said. “I feel like I will be able to ask him anything in my first year if I have questions about something. If I have a question how something is done, I can go to him and ask him. I am really excited about coming back to my hometown and being AD at Covington.”
And Craft feels good about the leaving the athletic department in her hands.
“We (Roger Craft and Ashley Johnson) have a real good relationship,” he said. “Absolutely I will be there if she has any questions. It will be a very smooth transition with Ashley. The program is in good hands.”
Just like it has been for the last 20-plus years.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.