KANSAS CITY, Mo. - UMKC Athletics is proud to announce a four-part series celebrating African American History during the month of February. Each individual featured is a key member of Roo athletic history and impacting the University in a lasting and positive manner. The third part in this series features track and field star Dee Dee Johnson (Forman). View the other individuals honored during February, CLICK HERE.
Dee Dee competed with UMKC for four seasons (1997-2000). During Dee Dee’s career, UMKC placed in the top three in outdoor track and field in the Mid-Continent Conference Championships. In 1999 and 2000, the team took first place in the Mid-Con with 196 points in 1999 and 268 points in 2000.
Deirdre, also known as ‘Dee Dee,’ was a two-time NCAA qualifier for the UMKC track and field program. In 2000, she was selected as both the Mid-Con Indoor and Outdoor Athlete of the Year.
Throughout her UMKC career, she managed to win a total of eight Mid-Con individual events, six of which came in the long and triple jump events. Dee Dee still holds the UMKC record in the indoor and outdoor triple jump and the pentathlon.
“It feels awesome to still hold the record,” commented Johnson. “I know one day somebody is going to break it, but it always feels good to know that what you did is still standing.”
Throughout Dee Dee’s career, she was very successful, but she gives credit to her coach and teammates.
“My track and field experiences at UMKC were awesome,” commented Johnson. “I was so excited to work with my coach, Chris Brown. He showed me a lot of love and attention. He also showed me how to jump, how to get better and work out. My teammates were also very supportive. The whole atmosphere was like a family.”
In 2009, Dee Dee was inducted into the UMKC Hall of Fame for her outstanding track and field achievements.
“It felt amazing to be recognized for my hard work,” commented Dee Dee. “You work hard for so long and for all of those years and to have someone recognize you makes you feel good. Like things that you did weren’t in vain, people were really looking at you and paying attention.”
After UMKC, Dee Dee went on to be the head boys track coach at King High School in Tampa, Fla., for eight years. Now, she is a teacher at King High School. She gives credit to her experiences at UMKC for her work ethic.
“Being a student-athlete helped me develop a hard work ethic and that carried over to the workforce,” said Johnson. “Now I am a teacher so all I know is go hard.”
African American History Month pays tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society. This event was initially a week-long recognition in February that began in 1926. The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. For more information, CLICK HERE.