“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly, we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
Noel Johnson finished her earthly battle on June 9, 2020. She fought courageously until the end.
Noel was born on December 1, 1972, in Shamrock, Texas, to Agatha and Norris Dean Johnson. Noel was an accomplished basketball player and coach. Noel loved the game of basketball and was grateful for the triumphs and humbleness that the game taught. More importantly, she was thankful for the game giving her coaches she loved and admired; teammates she called sisters and players she loved and mentored like daughters.
Noel was loyal, hardworking and competitive, but she treated everyone she met with kindness, respect, and dignity. She cared for her colleagues across the Lone Star Conference and supported the growth of women’s basketball.
Noel’s passion for basketball began at an early age, competing on the courts of West Texas with her brother and sister. She spent the majority of her youth in the Kelton and Nazareth gyms honing her craft and dreaming big. She helped lead the Swiftettes to a pair of Texas Class A state championships in 1990 and 1991 to end her high school career.
Noel enjoyed a distinguished playing career at Texas Tech University from 1991-95. She helped lead the Lady Raiders to four-straight Southwest Conference championship titles, four NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearances, and two Elite 8 appearances. During her player career the Lady Raiders boasted a record of 119 wins and 16 losses. No win was more important than the 1993 National Championship game against Ohio State where she steadied four crucial free throws down the stretch to help secure the win, giving Texas Tech their first Division I National Championship in school history.
In her time in Lubbock, she was voted to the all-time Lady Raider team at the final Southwest Conference tournament and became the school’s all-time leader in 3-point percentage. In addition to her success at Texas Tech, Johnson will always be the Southwest Conference’s most prolific 3-point shooter and was the first-ever recipient of the Jeannine McHaney Award, an honor given by Texas Tech to the female athlete who most exemplifies classroom excellence, courage on the court and a commitment to excellence.
She graduated from Texas Tech in 1995 with a bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science degree with a minor in English. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Education from Texas State in 2002. Noel’s coaching career began at Texas State University where she served nine seasons from 1998-2007. She served as assistant coach at the University of North Texas from 2007-08.
Noel became the Midwestern State University Head Women’s Basketball Coach in 2009. Over the next decade, she became the all-time winningest coach in program history winning the Lone Star Conference regular season and tournament championship during the 2012-2013 season. As a coach, the statistic she was most proud of was holding one of the highest graduation rates in MSU Texas Athletics.
Noel received numerous awards including the Texas Tech Hall of Honor (2005), Texas Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year (2013), Texas Association of Basketball Texas Small College Coach of the Year (2013), Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame (2018), and the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame (2019).
Noel loved the beach, her dogs, and her jeep. She was a devoted friend, coach, daughter, aunt, and sister. Although she was devoted to Wichita Falls and her MSU Texas family, the Texas Tech community always held a special place in her heart. The words of encouragement, support, and monetary donations from all over brightened her battle and made her a stronger warrior.
Noel received exceptional care at Texas Oncology Fort Worth and Wichita Falls and the last several months from Hospice of Wichita Falls. Thank you to each health care professional that treated, cared, prayed, and loved Noel during her battle.
Noel is survived by her parents Dean and Agatha Johnson of Tulia, her sister Leslie Johnson Henderson and husband Paul of Plainview, her brother Nick Johnson and wife Lisa of Canyon, her nieces and nephews; Camarie Henderson and fiancé Samuel Fleming, Dalton Henderson, Mikayla Henderson Murphy and husband Jonathan, Miller Johnson, Leah Noel Johnson; Reagan Foster, with whom she shared her life and was her caregiver over the past 14 months, and a slew of friends who she considered family.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 20th at 1:00 pm in D.L. Ligon Coliseum on the campus of Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls with Dr. Mark Bender, Senior Pastor of First Christian Church and Dr. David Hartman, officiating. Arrangements are under the direction of Lunn’s Colonial Funeral Home.
For those desiring, memorial donations may be made to the Noel Johnson Athletic Scholarship Fund at Midwestern State University or Hospice of Wichita Falls.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.lunnscolonial.com.