WINONA LAKE – Everybody loves being an armchair quarterback, sitting in the corner of the gym like Statler and Waldorf did on the Muppet Show, having a say on everything, right or wrong.
It’s the society we’ve become, hiding behind our words on Twitter, hoping to make a splash without having to be confronted about it. Representing, but not really representing. There are superfans everywhere, some dying with the team as hard as they do when rocking their gear when the team is doing well. For those who have met Grace College’s biggest fan, Clint Johnson, he represents a counterculture of fan. One who can be ardent for his team, but understands that sometimes, hey, the other team is good, too.
Grace College recognizes that, so much so that they have chosen to spotlight Johnson for his superfandom, and even immortalize it.
Lancer Nation can be a fickle one. With so many student athletes coming in from out of the area, finding support can often be difficult. One place this isn’t the case is at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center, where Johnson has sat in prayer, sat in agony, sat in excitement. “Clint Dawg” most often sits over the southeast gym exit with his friends and family. Anyone within earshot can hear him offer insight on his beloved Lancer basketball, where he was a student manager from 1999-2004 and now an ardent supporter of coach Jim Kessler’s Hall of Fame arc.
This Friday, Johnson will be celebrated in the same gym at the men’s basketball season opening game against Miami Hamilton for his patronage, continued support, and to present him and the fans with his own bobblehead.
“If there’s anyone who has earned this, it’s Clint,” said Grace College athletic director Chad Briscoe earlier this summer when the event was being concocted. “His love for Grace athletics really is unmatched. We feel like this is a small way to say thank you for all of the support.”
Added Johnson, who found out about the event just recently, “My reaction is that I am completely humbled, and also honored. I feel that there are hundreds to thousands of outstanding Lancer fans. It’s humbling that they chose me, because I know so many others that faithfully support the Lancers. It is such a great honor that the athletic department chose to recognize me. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to be able to support the Lancer sports teams through cheering for them at their games and matches.”
Johnson is a graduate of Grace College and Warsaw Community High School, and keeps up with both circles about as well as, if not better, than most media outlets. He has a fair list of podcasts about his thoughts, and in an era where Pardon The Interruption and First Take can’t wait to take a bite out of the latest target apple, Johnson prefers to put a positive spin on his sports views. He has become known for encouraging others on social media, whether it be college signings, team achievement, or just saying something nice about a team that beat the locals.
It’s what Clint Dawg does.
“As far as living in Warsaw and Winona Lake, I’ve lived here almost my entire life,” noted Johnson. “We moved here from Dickinson, Texas, the summer after I was born. My favorite area athletic events were Warsaw’s first sectional football game win in school history 20 years ago. I was a student manager. The magical run that the 1996 Warsaw Tigers boys basketball squad went on was epic. Kevin Ault was one of the best shooters of the basketball I’ve seen. I also remember when the Tigers played against Zach Randolph. Those were some great games!”
A lot can be learned from Johnson. His character often is unchanged in public. He loves his teams, he loves his sports, and he loves the culture. Working at the Gordon Rec Center at the front desk, Johnson has remained on campus working with the same faces that have helped him become a staple in Lancer Nation and the Warsaw community in general.
So for all you’ve done to be a standup figure, take a bow, Clint Dawg. Or better yet, take a bobble.