The Ex Pro & AVCA All-American is Poised to Restore Puma Pride and Ignite the Girls Volleyball Program
Chaparral has a new Girls Volleyball Head Coach this season. Gale Johnson has taken the reigns and is poised to take the Pumas program forward. The Pumas lost coach Dana Burkholder who resigned mid summer.
Burkholder is a director at Forza, a private volleyball training performance center in Temecula. Her responsibilities at Forza were growing and she felt she couldn’t give both jobs 100% anymore. She stepped down at Chaparral in mid summer. Her teams finished 51-34 overall in 3 years.
Johnson takes over a club that went 14-12 and 3-7 in the Southwestern league last year. The Pumas had seen a decline in league play over the past 3 years. They finished 7-3 in league in 2015 and 5-5 in 2016.
The new head coach is reestablishing Puma Pride and confidence in the program. Chaparral is 10-4 so far this season and lost a heart breaker to Murrieta Valley in their league opener.
Johnson graduated from Diamond Bar High School and earned a full ride scholarship to Brigham Young University. She started as a freshman on BYU’s Final Four Team in 1993 and advanced to the Final Four where her team beat #1 UCLA in straight sets. She led both teams in kills that match as a freshman.
At BYU her honors included 1st Team All WAC, Academic All WAC, WAC Player Of The Year, WAC Tournament MVP and was selected an AVCA All-American. She was only the third player in BYU history to record more than 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career.
After BYU, Johnson played professionally for the Utah Predators and began her coaching career as the Head Volleyball Coach at American Fork High School in Utah. At AFHS, she taught History and Government, and earned a Masters Degree in Teaching from Grand Canyon University.
Johnson walked away from teaching and after giving birth to premature twins. Morgan was 2 pounds 12 ounces, and Elizabeth was 2 pounds 15 ounces. “I felt I needed to be with them, take care of them, and do what I could to help them reach their milestones” said Johnson.
“I returned to coaching ten years later when the twins were 11 years old and started playing club volleyball. I wasn’t planning on coaching them because I had to take care of my other two daughters, but I just couldn’t stay away” added Johnson.
“My husband adjusted his work schedule so he could take the younger two kids while I was coaching them and I’ve been coaching ever since. First at Viper, then at Forza, and now at Chaparral. I love volleyball. It’s my passion. And I love watching my girls learn and play this sport”.
That’s right, three of Johnson’s daughter’s are on Chaparral’s varsity team. The twins are now seniors and leading the Puma attack. Morgan is committed to BYU, currently ranked number 1 in the country. Elizabeth has still not decided which college she’ll be attending. Anna is a sophomore. The youngest daughter Kate is in 6th grade.
“When I spoke with the AD at Chap about possibly taking the job, I reminded him that I had three kids on the varsity team” said Johnson.
“I also assured him the last thing I would do is reward my children with playing time if they didn’t deserve it or work hard. That goes against everything I’ve tried to instill in them their entire lives”.
The new head coach certainly seems to have the Pumas headed n the right direction. Chaparral faces Yucaipa today and the Pumas will take on Southwestern league foe Murrieta Mesa Wednesday.