Silverwood teacher goes from athlete to scholar

POULSBO - It's been a few years since Lisa Raschkow Johnson stepped away from the center court spotlight, but the Silverwood School teacher continues to shine on the hardwood as well as in the classroom.

Johnson, a standout point guard at Auburn High School and the University of Washington during the 1980s, was inducted Wednesday into the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) Hall of Fame for her outstanding achievements as a student athlete. She joins fellow inductees like former Mariner John Olerud, NBA assist leader John Stockton and Kingston High School girls basketball assistant coach Joyce Walker in the Hall's prestigious ranks.

"I'm very honored," Johnson said of the award. "It took a little while to sink in."

Johnson was nominated for the Hall of Fame by her husband, Mark, a former basketball and football star at North Kitsap High School.

"I didn't know anything about it," Johnson said. "He started the process, I think, about a year ago. Then a couple months ago, we were in the kitchen and we got a phone call, and he goes, 'I just got off the phone with the WIAA and you're being inducted into the Hall of Fame.' So that was the first I'd even known about it."

Johnson grew up playing basketball, softball, soccer and other sports with her brothers, who pushed her to be better and helped mold her style of play.

"It just fostered my understanding of the game, playing more of the sandlot type of games than maybe playing so much organized sports when I was younger," said Johnson.

She took to softball right away, but her love for hoops would develop later and soon enough reign supreme.

"Basketball wasn't my favorite sport when I was younger," said Johnson. "It was fun for me to play, but I really liked softball a lot.

"My first organized (basketball) team wasn't until junior high. That was when I realized that that's probably the sport that I wanted to be serious in and take it the furthest. Out of all those sports, it's the one team sport that you can have a bigger impact on, especially being a point guard."

During her days at Auburn High School, Johnson amassed a mountain of awards and accolades in her three favorite sports. In 1982, she helped her softball team win the state championship and her soccer team to a third place finish at state. In the 1982-83 season, Johnson led Auburn basketball to an undefeated season and the state title. She finished her three years at the school with a record 550 assists - nearly twice as many as the next name on the list. As a Husky, Johnson was a four year varsity letter winner and captain of the 1986 and 1987 women's teams. Her assist record there held for 15 years.

Mark Johnson contacted many of Lisa's coaches, including former UW and current Yale head coach Chris Gobrecht, to enlist their sponsorship of his wife's nomination. In a letter to the WIAA selection committee, Gobrecht called the 1986 and 1987 UW teams, on which Johnson was the starting point guard, "powerful overachievers who laid the foundation for the future Husky teams and inspired a city to care about the sport.

"No one epitomized those teams better than Lisa," continued Gobrecht. "She had a knack for hitting big shots and played all parts of the game with great intelligence."

Johnson majored in math at the UW and after graduating with a 3.4 GPA, moved to Plano, Texas, to work as a systems engineer, implementing software for a company called Electronic Data Systems. Johnson said, after moving away from the world of high-level competitive sports, that she made some personality adjustments upon joining the corporate sphere.

"You learn to adjust and tone it down a little. I've mellowed. You can ask any of my kids' soccer coaches," she laughs, "I'm still competitive, but it's more important to teach the kids to play the game the right way than it is to win."

Johnson eventually moved from Plano to Boston, and then to EDS's office in Poulsbo, where she met her husband. Pam Clark, a former NK basketball star and one of Johnson's teammates at the UW, set her mutual friends, Mark Johnson and Lisa Raschkow, up on a date one day shortly after Lisa's return to the Northwest. Mark currently works as an outside sales rep for Webster Veterinary Supply, a company that makes veterinary pharmaceuticals. His job requires occasional travel, so Lisa, after a brief stint in a consulting company, which also required travel, opted to split her time between home and the Silverwood School, where she currently teaches physical education.

Johnson started volunteering at Silverwood a few years ago, after enrolling her son and daughter. Soon she began substituting in PE as well as other subjects, like math. When the time came for the school's PE teacher to move on, Johnson gladly filled the vacancy.

"Lisa takes athletics and fitness very seriously, and she communicates that to the kids," said Jamie Estill, Silverwood's Head of School. "When she talks about fitness, they know that it's coming from a place of personal commitment."

After two years as a teacher, Johnson remains enthusiastic about her position at Silverwood.

"Sometimes I don't think the kids realize they're learning, because it's so much fun," she said of the 68-student elementary school's hands-on approach.

Johnson wears numerous hats, though, and to characterize her as merely a teacher or just an athlete would be misleading. After all, her favorite role is as a mother.

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