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FHSU coach inducted into Barton Hall of Fame

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

When he was 18 years old, Steve Johnson decided to head from Salisbury, Mo., a town of about 1,700 people, to Barton County Community College. He played for Curtis Hammeke and Mike Warren and collected all-conference and all-region honors.

His time at Barton laid the foundation for a career in baseball.

Then, he played one season at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, earned MVP honors of the Sun Belt Conference and played five years of professional baseball. Johnson assisted at several schools before he took over as the head coach at Butler County Community College. He is now in his third season at Fort Hays State University, under Hammeke, currently the Tigers' athletic director.

Recently, Johnson earned entry into the Barton County Hall of Fame.

"It's kind of hard to put into words," Johnson said Monday. "When I was 18 years old and made a decision to go to Barton County from the middle of Missouri, you don't realize sometimes where life takes you to have the good fortune to make that decision and get lucky enough to get two coaches like Curtis Hammeke and Mike Warren, who were probably the perfect fit for me and developed lifelong relationships with them."

"You really just can't put it into words," Johnson added. "It's an incredible honor. There has been so many athletes that have gone through there that are just phenomenal. To be considered with them is quite an honor and very humbling."

Johnson is 57-47 in two years with the Tigers, including a MIAA conference tournament runner-up finish last season. Fort Hays will open the season at Metro State (Colo.) College on February and Saturday.