I’ll never forget where I was when I heard Julie Johnson was stepping down as the Ripon College women’s basketball coach.

   Every year, I take off the Thursday and Friday afternoons during the opening round of the NCAA basketball tournament.

   I remember being at what is now Webster’s Marketplace in 2013, shopping for some snacks to eat while watching basketball.

   It was then that I received a text from my editor, Ian Stepleton, letting me know that Julie was relinquishing her coaching position.

   This was before I had a smart phone, so all I had was the text.

   I was floored. I just stared down at my phone for what seemed like several minutes with a blank look on my face.

    To me, a 2010 Ripon College graduate who dealt with Julie during my time with the college newspaper and in an internship with the Commonwealth, she was Red Hawk women’s basketball personified.

   When I arrived home, I read the press release from the college and was relieved to see she wasn’t leaving, but instead electing to focus more on her athletic director duties. But I still couldn’t wrap my head around her decision.

   Over the weekend, thoughts raced through my head about the reason why she stepped down from a job she loved so much.

   Monday rolled around and I set up an interview with Julie in her office. It was one of many times I talked with her for a story, but it was one I won’t forget.

Read the full column, which includes information on other interactions with her, in the June 20, 2019 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.