Cherry Creek baseball coach Marc Johnson reflects on his record-setting win

Regis Jesuit Cherry Creek baseball

(Tim Bourke)

It's not hard for Marc Johnson to reflect on this coaching at career at Cherry Creek. He's been the man in charge of the program since 1973 and has built it into arguably the most prestigious baseball program in the state's history.

A chapter was added to that prestige last week when the Bruins beat Grandview 6-5 (in extra innings) to get Johnson his 808th win, which became the most by a coach in the state's history passing Eaton's Jim Danley. At that moment, he was able to enjoy the accomplishment but he also couldn't help but think of everything that led up to that moment.

"It means to me that I've been blessed with a lot of good players over the years," Johnson said. "A lot of the kids have bought into the system I teach."

It's a system that has certainly worked. Since Johnson took over in 1973, Cherry Creek has claimed eight state baseball titles and played in a total of 14 state title games. To go with that, Creek players have been selected 51 times in the MLB Draft.

While success in the playoffs and the number of players drafted can certainly be measurements of a program's success, it's far from the only ones.

And they aren't the ones that Johnson himself uses.

"It's meant a lot to me that each team, I truly believe this, got better from the time that they started to the time that they finished," Johnson said. "And on a personal basis, it's that that these kids became great people."

That a byproduct of the high school product, according to Johnson. He points to high school baseball (and high school athletics in general) as a crucial developmental piece for kids. He understands the value that can come with getting exposure outside of the high school setting, but doesn't think that the life lessons associated with interscholastic athletics are prevalent during summer club seasons.

(Jack Eberhard/JacksActionShots.com)

"You don't that community involvement," Johnson said. "All that school involvement, the kids get so excited. You have your tournaments and you get your games but the high school experience is something that I don't think a lot of kids ever forget."

If there's an authority on that subject, it would have to be Johnson.

At the conclusion of the game against Grandview, he started hearing from former players that had scattered themselves away from Colorado. He said he had received a phone call from Germany as well as players that had established themselves throughout the United States.

His phone wouldn't stop buzzing.

"I had 253 messages," he said.

Although the 808 (and counting) wins will be attributed to him, he knows this accomplishments is the result of the work of a lot people.

He couldn't have done it without the players on his rosters and he couldn't have done without the support of the athletic office at Cherry Creek as well as his coaching staffs.

And now that he's broken the record, the only thing that will change is having a conversation leading into it. People have asked him if he'll retire now that he's the winningest coach in state history. He says no. He still enjoys coaching kids and being a part of their development into adults.

"I'll leave when I'm no longer having an impact," Johnson said.

With the record now in his hands, he'll turn his attention to getting the 2021 Bruins through the season. The team is 5-1 on the year and looks like it could get Johnson his ninth state title ring as a head coach. When it's all over, he'll be able to look back at this season and how much that 808th win really means to him.

"I'd be lying if I said it meant nothing," Johnson said. "I'd also be lying if I said it meant everything."

In a lot of ways, it was just another game. And Johnson was reminded of that when Scott Burk, a member of Johnson's first team in 1973, embraced his old coach after the game was over.

All the people in attendance got to witness history with Johnson claiming win No. 808. Burk couldn't help but remind his old coach that he had been there for win No. 1.

ThunderRidge Cherry Creek baseball

(Jack Eberhard/JacksActionShots.com)