Coaches Reflect on Their Influential Pasts
Travel back in time with Collin Johnson and Hannah Kerr
March 8, 2023
These coaches have helped several students go off to and compete at state level. Liberty’s boy’s varsity swim team has had six qualifiers this past year. Liberty’s cheer team were state champions in 2020.
Rewind with the Resource Teacher
“Cheer isn’t a sport,” “Guys don’t cheer,” “Cheerleading is so easy.” After all, Mr. Johnson, or as his athletes call him, Coach Collin, proved this stereotype wrong. Resource teacher Mr. Johnson has been cheering since he was in high school, so he knows a little bit about the cheer world. Ever since he set foot on a cheer mat, he knew it was meant to be.
“One of my friends actually just asked me if I wanted to throw her in the air and catch her feet and I said, ‘Sure, why not,’” Johnson recalled. “At that point, I just think it clicked for me.”
Johnson cheered for Timberland High School, junior year through senior year. He then went on to cheer at Iowa Western Community College for two years and then Morehead State for his last two, all at which he won multiple competitions.
“I think a real cheerleader is someone who is a student-athlete whose main goal is to provide a welcoming gameday atmosphere and to get the crowd/student section involved and hyped up when cheering on any sport they attend,” Johnson described.
Throughout his cheerleading career, he explored many different things he could do that he couldn’t do before. He learned how to use his loud voice to get the crowd’s attention easily, how to properly stunt (throw girls in the air), and it even helped him become more outgoing for the future.
“Competing was definitely my favorite part of cheer because I just loved going out there and showing the best routine to the judges and other cheerleaders watching,” Mr. Johnson said. “It’s just an awesome feeling.”
When he first started at Liberty, he coached the JV cheer team for about a year, then moved onto coaching the varsity cheer team for three years and counting. “My favorite part of coaching is watching the team grow as a whole throughout the season and watching them motivate each other to become better athletes,” Johnson said. “I love the camaraderie and connections they have with each other.”
Johnson started coaching because his old coach at Iowa Western, Jeff Snow, influenced him to coach and spread the happiness he has for cheer to others. Ever since Johnson started coaching the varsity competition team, he and his team have accomplished many things. They have won three regional championships, won one state title and have competed at the national level in Disney World last year and are competing again this year.
With his background in cheer – and blood, sweat and tears created from cheer – Johnson understands the struggles we’ve had to go through and the successes that we have made. Although many people may not have known that their own resource teacher was a world champion cheerleader, it seems pretty cool to know now, right?
Liberty Legacies: Hannah Kerr
For Hannah Kerr, swimming was a huge influence on her future career.
Kerr graduated in 2018 from Liberty High School and made the full circle back to being involved at the school. Kerr is currently finishing her degree in teaching at Lindenwood. She is also student teaching social studies at Frontier Middle School with Mr. Stratman as her cooperating teacher.
Along with finding her passion in teaching, she is continuing her passion with swim. She was a part of the Liberty girls swim team all four years of her high school career and is now she is the head coach of Liberty boys swim, along with assistant coaching girls swim.
Kerr helped lead the boys team to state with six swimmers participating. She also created an amazing environment for all the swimmers.
“I have had a few jobs before this, but the experiences I have had this year only positively solidified my career path choices,” Kerr said.
In high school, she was very passionate about swim. She helped contribute to three consecutive GAC wins and even qualified and went to state her senior year.
“When you are in the moment, you do not fully understand how much you are going to miss those 5 a.m. practices, those 8:30 p.m. meets, the exhaustion after an intense practice, and the team inside jokes while we stuff ourselves at pasta parties,” Kerr expressed.
Swimming is definitely not a breeze of a sport, but it helped Kerr find her passion.
“Those moments helped define my love for the sport and those who I shared those experiences with as well as myself,” Kerr said.
Coach Taylor Whitmore coached Kerr her senior year of swim. She explains how Kerr was in high school.
Whitmore stated, “She was an excellent leader on the team and was truly a team player who wanted everyone to succeed. It is no surprise that Hannah has gone on to pursue a career as a teacher and has begun coaching at Liberty High School.”
Along with swimming, Kerr also helped manage football her junior and senior year.
“My involvement in these activities definitely helped shape me as the person I am today. I was able to refine skills such as leadership, communication, empathy, problem solving, and accountability,” Kerr explains.
“I am very lucky to have coached her and look forward to coaching with her on the girls swim and dive team this winter,” Whitmore says.
Kerr has made the full circle back to Liberty and many are happy to see how far she’s come.