Hoover Buc Anna Claire Johnson
By Wayne Wood
Anna Claire Johnson is back home at Hoover High School as a teacher and coach. She grew up in Hoover experimenting with different sports as a youngster. Anna Claire played or participated at one time or another with baseball, softball, gymnastics, soccer, karate and volleyball. In baseball, she explained, “the boys were really dirty & messy and I told my mom I didn’t want to play with them anymore. I got tired of everything else, but volleyball was more fun, different to me. I would just pick up a volleyball and play with it. I didn’t do that with the other sports I played.”
Volleyball became more organized for her as a 7th grader for the Simmons Middle School Bucs team. At Hoover High, she moved up to the varsity at the end of her sophomore season and was a starter as a junior leading the team in kills (311) and aces (95).
By the time Anna Claire graduated from Hoover in 2014, the 5-10 outside hitter had accumulated honors such as Metro Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013, All-State, Scholar Athlete of the Week a few times, Hoover Rotary Athlete of the Month and a National Honor Society Member. She signed a volleyball scholarship with the University of Alabama/Huntsville.
She saw action for the U.A.H. Chargers in every match as a freshman becoming known as a highly talented five-tool player skilled in hitting, passing, serving, defense and setting. While becoming a top statistical leader in volleyball throughout her career, Anna Claire also acquired conference All-Academic squad honors.
After graduating from college, she received the opportunity teaching English and coaching volleyball at James Clemons High School School in Madison, Alabama near Huntsville from 2018-2020.
When she came home to Hoover High School, she joined the ranks of Hoover Buc graduates teaching and coaching at their alma mater. Noted current alum such as 1996 grad Alicia Romero Wilbanks who coaches the school dance team while teaching 5 dance classes throughout the school day; 2001 grad & Head Girls Basketball Coach Krystle Johnson who teaches Math; 2002 grad Daniel King-though not an official coach and teacher serves as the football teams Motivational Speaker; 2011 grads Carson Haley and Preston Sanford who are both varsity football assistant coaches (Carson teaches History and works with the offensive line while Preston teaches Chemistry & Forensics and works with the defensive secondary); and 2012 grad Dakota Daniel teaches History and coaches the running backs for the Freshman team while previously doing the Junior Varsity.
Obviously, Anna Claire (now Coach Johnson) is in some distinguished company while joining other high school professional colleagues at Hoover High School. Let her take it from here.
“I didn’t realize how special Hoover High School was until I went to college where I met people who went to high schools very different from mine. Because Hoover is both large and diverse, there are countless opportunities for every single kind of student, and for each of these kinds of students to interact with, learn from, and create lifelong friendships with each other. By the time I turned 18, I had known or been friends with almost every type of person, and I treasure that to this day.”
“Coming back to Hoover has been everything I hoped it would be (minus COVID, of course). When I accepted the job, I had a little flash of fear because I was afraid my memory had idealized Hoover maybe beyond what it was, but after being back this summer and through the beginning of school, I’ve realized my memory was accurate. The people here celebrate the diversity of our student population and take pride in working here. They’re passionate, committed, loving, intelligent professionals, and I’m privileged to teach alongside them.”
“My personal experience at Hoover as a student was that of many Hoover athletes. There were high expectations for my performance in the classroom as well as my performance on the court. I was coached by a challenging, knowledgeable, high-intensity coach-Chris Camper, who I now coach with – who ultimately prepared me for playing volleyball at the collegiate level. My teachers were compassionate and kind, and conducted rigorous, meaningful lessons. Mrs. Lesa Gibson, my 11th grade English teacher, is who made me want to be an English teacher. English had always been my favorite subject – that was nothing new – but she oozed this passion for learning and developing young minds that became contagious. She genuinely, and I mean GENUINELY TO HER CORE, cared deeply for each of her students. Now, on the first day of school of each year I’ve taught, I tell the story of Mrs. Gibson, and finish with this sentence: ‘I want to be a Mrs. Gibson for someone else.’ “
“Outside of the warm and fuzziness of Hoover, I quickly realized in the fall of 2014 that Hoover prepared me for the world more than I ever imagined. The transition to being a college student and athlete was almost seamless. Four years later, I graduated with a 4.0 from the University of Alabama at Huntsville with a kill record (in volleyball) under my belt. Let me be clear, Hoover didn’t make the pressure of college learning or college athletics easy; Hoover made me PREPARED and EQUIPPED. Hoover believes in what I eventually learned to call ‘productive struggle’ to create independent, strong, resourceful adults for the world awaiting them.”
“When I started telling people I got this job, one thing that surprised me – but it really shouldn’t have – was the amount of praise I received from previous Hoover students and Hoover parents. It made me realize how highly everyone regards Hoover, not just me. And it’s not because it’s perfect, but because it ISN’T. There were people from all walks of life in all stages of life inside the walls of Hoover, and we got the privilege to experience the range of it all, either ourselves or by witness, before ever becoming as adult. There was always someone like you, but always someone very different from you. There was always someone who agreed with you, and always someone who didn’t. There were teachers you never quite understood – and you had to learn how to cope – and there were teachers you understood on the very first day.”
“As a Hoover grad and, now, Hoover teacher, I am blessed to work at not just a place who values the beautiful, messy, meaningful parts of education, but THE place who instilled these values in me.”
“I can’t wait to contribute.”
For Teacher/Coach Anna Claire Johnson. there are now and will be to come numerous students and athletes waiting to receive her contributions.