Coach Jim Johnson
"Dreams Really Do Come True"
Dear Event Coordinator,
When you are in charge of an event, all eyes are on you. You don’t want
to disappoint your people! You want a big win. In fact, you want to
you entertain everyone and really bring home your event message.
How are you going to make sure that everybody in your group has a great
time? Good News: You don’t have to go it alone! We’re here to help.
Here’s what will happen when you book the inspiring, motivational, true
story of Coach Jim Johnson and J-Mac to your next special event…
Your people will come up to you and thank you for changing their lives!
Audiences of all types are always touched and deeply inspired by Jim’s
life-changing message about the power of the human spirit.
Dreams Really Do Come True! is a timely feel-good message that leaves
people feeling re-charged and optimistic about the contribution they
can make with their lives and the difference they can make in the lives
of those around them.
It’s rare to find someone who can take you far beyond a motivational
talk and into a transformational experience of the magic of passion,
perseverance, and the power of teamwork.
A few of the organizations that have been delighted by Coach Jim
Johnson include: PONTIAC, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The
Ladders, Paychex Inc, the National Conference on Student Leadership,
and the Social Security Administration.
Coach Jim Johnson’s message Dreams Really Do Come True! is a slam-dunk
success with business groups, associations, schools, and religious
Use Coach Jim Johnson as a memorable conference kick-off opener, a
rousing closing keynote message, or for a dynamic after-dinner
With Coach Jim Johnson, you can provide your attendees with Inspiration + Content.
Coach Jim has been inspiring and leading one of the toughest audiences
(our youth) for over 28 years. He is an authority on what it takes to
make dreams come true, teamwork, leadership and motivating your team.
He can customize his message around your event theme and program goals.
• Dreams Really Do Come True
Coach Johnson shares one of the most inspiring and heart warming
stories of the 21st century. He shares his six essential keys: Passion,
Mission, Goal setting, Perseverance, Carpe Diem, and be a team player
to help each audience member have their Dreams come true.
• Leadership That Makes Dreams Come True
Leadership that makes dreams come true”. Coach Johnson shares the
remarkable story of J-Mac and his six leadership keys that has helped
his teams to immense success. Become an extraordinary leader by
learning how to clarify your vision, build trust, creating an edge,
communicating effectively, leading by example, and leaving a profit.
• Dreams Really Do Come True (90 mins. to 4 hours)
This vision oriented workshop guides participants through the 6
essential key principals which Coach Johnson has used to lead his high
school varsity basketball team to extraordinary success. In this
workshop, participants discover how to help team members work from
their strengths, value others and achieve breakthrough performance.
This workshop affects the bottom line in both your personal and
• Leadership Workshop (90 mins. to 4 hours)
Dreams In Motion Leadership Development workshop. This innovative
workshop helps participates see their vision more clearly, develop
increased confidence in their abilities, and reach levels of leadership
achievement previously thought impossible.
came and shared his inspirational story with our whole team of 225
employees and moved us to tears. Anybody who has seen the video of the
game can’t help but be inspired by it. But what we found even more
engaging about Coach Johnson’s presentation was “the story behind the
story. I can recommend him to any group as a speaker. - Marc Cenedella, CEO & Founder, TheLadders.com
I think it’s a great story — to follow your dream, follow your goals
and never ever quit. It’s a great story for people of my age, people of
any age. - Dick Vitale, ESPN Basketball Commentator and Basketball Hall of Famer
Your Convocation speech on August 18th certainly exceeded our
expectations. Addressing the staff members of three districts at one
setting can be challenging, but the delivery of your message was
Teachers and administrators from all three districts made numerous
comments about your presentation on “Dreams Really Do Come True”. They
were highly complementary and appreciated your willingness to share
your personal feelings about the many experiences you have encountered
during your career.
As educators, we face many challenges every day. The fact that you were
a successful teacher facing such challenges gave you a great deal of
credibility with the audience. It was so heartwarming to learn about
your relationship with J-Mac. After all, it is those types of
relationships that allow students to reach their highest potential. I
hope that you continue to share your special story with educators
throughout the country. - Dr. Lani Randall, Superintendent, Port Neches-Groves ISD
Jim gave him that opportunity. You do the right thing like that, you may change a life forever. - John Calipari,
Head Basketball Coach, University of Kentucky Wildcats
Back in September we were honored to have Coach Jim Johnson give a key
note speech at our yearly convention in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Coach Johnson was nothing but pleasant from the time that we picked him
up at the airport to the time that we dropped him off. On top of being
an all around great guy, Coach Johnson inspired and motivated people to
believe in themselves and have the courage to not give up on their
From the first sentence to his closing remarks Coach Johnson had the
audience in a trance. It really was amazing to see someone capture an
audience of 4,000 and have them transitioning from crying to laughter
in an instant.
We were very pleased with his performance and how he handled himself on
and off the stage. In our eyes Coach Johnson’s speech added a missing
link that we feel reached out to people in a way that we were unable to.
In closing, we in no way regret having Coach Jim Johnson speak at our
event and would recommend him to anyone that is looking to motivate and
inspire their group. - Jeff Higginson, Senior VP of the Americas
I was in Lake Placid when the Americans beat the Soviets in 1980, I saw
Kirk Gibson’s home run in 1988, I saw the Red Sox come back on the
Yankees in ’04, I saw the ball roll through Bill Buckner’s legs in
1986. I wish I had been there to watch Jason in person. That was one I
missed. - Mike Lupica,
New York Daily News columnist and ESPN commentator
Jim’s story proves that if we as humans will strive to treat everyone
with respect and dignity, that we can truly make a difference in their
lives. Every person, young or old, can take a piece of Jim’s
story and apply it to their personal situation, giving hope and meaning
to the fact that “DREAMS REALLY DO COME TRUE!! - Tim McMullen, Letchworth Central School, Athletic Director, Head Football Coach, Head Basketball Coach
The Miracle Night......
On the night
of February 15, 2006, the bleachers at Greece Athena High School near
Rochester, New York, were packed with students who had just begun
cheering wildly and jumping up and down. During that same moment, I
collapsed into my seat as tears welled in my eyes.
Never before had I made a coaching move with such impact. Never had I
felt such emotion in my career. You’d think we had just won a
championship. It wasn’t a buzzer-beating basket; it wasn’t a heave from
half-court that made the place go nuts. In fact, it wasn’t even a
specific play. All I had done was turn toward the player with uniform
number 52, point my index finger at him, and say “J-Mac.”
Up bounced Jason McElwain. In giving him some playing time, I enabled
him to realize a lifelong dream. It was the last home contest of his
senior year, and Jason was seeing his first varsity action.
Now this might seem like a fairly ordinary moment, but Jason wasn’t
your ordinary basketball player. He was small and skinny. He stood all
of 5 feet, 7 inches and weighed only 120 pounds, and his blond hair was
partially covered by a head band.
Jason—or J-Mac, a tag I had hung on him two years earlier when he first
managed for us—was so excited to enter the game that he started right
for the basketball court without first checking in and had to be
redirected to the scorer’s table. But very few people noticed that;
they were just so happy to see him get in the game.
Why? Because Jason is autistic and learning-disabled. Knowing his
limitations, the crowd was moved and so was I upon Jason entering the
Throughout the night J-Mac—and the increasingly impatient
spectators—had wondered if I was ever going to play him. Finally, with
4:19 remaining in the game, a large lead and all my other substitutes
having seen action, J-Mac ascended his stage with the fanfare of a
rock-and-roll star. In fact, many fans had brought blow-up photos of
Jason attached to wooden sticks, and they began furiously waving the
placards upon his grand entrance.
My simple reason for playing Jason was because I loved the kid and
wanted to give him the shot he deserved. I didn’t do any of this for
hype, but what a beautiful scene nonetheless. That was enough reward
right there for me.
When play resumed Jason promptly launched an air ball, and I put my
head in my hands. Prayer supposedly isn’t allowed in public schools,
but I started praying for all I was worth: “Please, God, let him make
just one basket.”
He then missed a layup. I started praying harder.
Fortunately, God must be a basketball fan. And he apparently had a
message to deliver to the rest of the world that night. In fact, I
believe it was nothing short of a miracle.
Jason soon rattled home an historic three-point basket, creating
complete bedlam. And that was just the beginning. If his making one
basket was a shock, there are no words to describe what happened
afterward. With his teammates looking to pass him the ball at every
opportunity, Jason launched 13 shots in all and made seven—including
six three-pointers. That’s 20 points in half a quarter, making him the
game’s high scorer, as we won 79-43.
As the game’s final seconds ticked off, I got a tap on my shoulder and
it was J-Mac’s mother, Debbie McElwain in tears. She said, “Coach, this
is the nicest gift you could have ever given my son.” She then bent
down and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
It was a story that had all the makings of a major inspirational event
even if J-Mac hadn’t scored, or if he had just nailed a three-pointer
and then come right out of the game. But scoring 20 points in the
game’s last 3:11? A high-school team can’t score at that pace.
Projected over an entire 32-minute game, that’s a ratio of about 200
points per game.
However, there was a lot more going on than a scoring rampage if you
look closely at the video. You see Jason’s teammates passing to him
exclusively. All the players going crazy on the bench for each shot
that fell.Jason being engulfed by players and fans after swishing in
his last shot at the buzzer, from NBA range. Students hoisting Jason on
their shoulders as he raised a basketball high above his head in
triumph. It was a complete celebration of humanity. They’re actions
that elate me, based on the life lessons I’ve tried to teach during my
In just a few minutes’ time this diminutive 17-year-old had turned the
tables on a lifetime largely filled with social isolation due to his
autism. Beginning the next day, J-Mac and I were thrust onto the
national stage in ways that almost never happen in high-school
athletics.Thanks to some amateur video by a student volunteer and the
power of the Internet, this story was picked up by major media outlets
around the world. Jason and I subsequently appeared on all kinds of
talk shows and newscasts.
Reports continue to live on today through various YouTube postings
(including my personal favorite, an ESPN feature that reveals just how
deeply J-Mac’s big night moved me. I show that piece at all my
public-speaking appearances and still get choked up looking at it.)
I’ve also received several hundred letters, phone calls, and e-mails
praising me for giving J-Mac a chance and remarking on how deeply
inspiring the event was.
I’ve read and heard, many times over, the Gospel accounts of miracles
performed by Jesus. These acts typically involved common, everyday
folks. Some of them had disabilities. All had faith, and they became a
positive example for others.Therein, to me, lies the meaning behind the
miracle of February 15, 2006. As it turned out, I’d say J-Mac and I
were just the kind of people God might employ to send a message of hope
to the rest of the world in the form of a timeless, feel-good story.