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Elkhart Memorial's Tieshawn Johnson faces off against NorthWood's Michael Leonard in the 195-lb championship. Johnson was recently named the 2014 Tim Bringle Memorial Award winner. (James Buck/The Elkhart Truth)

Memorial's unbeaten 195 pound senior Tieshawn Johnson chats with team mates during a practice practice Monday Feb. 10, 2014. Johnson was recently named the 2014 Tim Bringle Memorial Award winner. (Larry Tebo/The Elkhart Truth) (Buy this photo)

NorthWood's Luke Edwards (6) runs past Memorial's Tieshawn Johnson (45) and Chris Kale (6) in a game Friday, Oct 4. Johnson was recently named the 2014 Tim Bringle Memorial Award winner. (J. Tyler Klassen/The Elkhart Truth)
Bringle winner Tieshawn Johnson chooses 'path to the top of the mountain'

Posted on June 4, 2014 at 1:42 p.m.

ELKHART — Tieshawn Johnson does not look for short cuts.

The 2014 Tim Bringle Memorial Award winner, as Elkhart Community Schools' top senior male athlete, thrives on hard work.

That's what made him excel on the wrestling mat and the football field.

"Tieshawn was without a doubt the leader of this team," said Elkhart Memorial head wrestling coach Jim Iannarelli. "Tieshawn took the reigns of this team without question and strove to find ways to improve his and his teammates' skills. 


Who: Elkhart Memorial senior and 2014 Tim Bringle Memorial Award winner.

Wrestling: Fifth at state finals in 2013-14. Went 112-18 for his career. Won three sectionals, three regionals and one semistate championship as an individual and helped Memorial to four sectional team titles.

Football: Captain and outstanding defensive lineman, all-Northern Lakes Conference first team with 84 tackles as a senior (172 all-time, ranking in the EMHS top 10).

Other: A wrestling club coach and mentor. Also involved in Feed The Children and Service Project X in 2013-14.

Family: Mother is Katrina Lewis.

College: Indiana Tech. Plans to study fashion design and marketing and wrestle.

"His sense for his team, coaches and mentors is something that I wish I would see in more individuals today. He commands a presence. Never once did he ask to be given a break. In fact, early on this season he asked me specifically to be harder on him. He said it would motivate him more."

Johnson took that motivation all the way to the IHSAA State Finals where he finished fifth at 195 pounds. In May, the athlete with 112 career high school victories signed to continue his academic and wrestling careers at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne.

Seemingly always with a smile on his face, Johnson drove himself while also thinking about his fellow athletes.

"The one thing that Tieshawn did that will always be ingrained in my memory as a coach was the fact that he never forgot to show praise to his teammates," Iannarelli said. "On the road to the state tournament, he and Tony (Vaughn) went through a brutal week of practice. In the end, Tieshawn said thank you to all those wrestlers who stayed behind to work with him.

"That is a profound thing — he never forgot the people that got him where he is today."

Nick Corpe, the 2005 Bringle Award winner and a state wrestling champion for Memorial that same year, is now a Chargers assistant coach. He talked about what Johnson did with his physical gifts.

"His strength, speed, coordination and balance are God-given," said Corpe, the former Purdue University wrestler. "An athlete that is born with the physical skill set such as Tieshawn's, at some point, has a decision to make."

Corpe said Option A is the "path of least resistance," where the gifted athlete coasts on his physical superiority. Option B, the one chosen by Johnson, is the "path to the top of the mountain."

"He knows that he is gifted, but he sets his goals on things that require more than physical gifts," Corpe said. "When we discussed this with Tieshawn, he didn't even blink. He committed himself 100 percent to becoming the best athlete he could possibly be."

Three days a week, Corpe picked up Johnson at 5 a.m. for morning workouts. Johnson never missed one.

Memorial head football coach Bill Roggeman also noticed Johnson's work ethic.

"What makes him so good? He has an inner drive to be the best," Roggeman said. "He has pride. He not only wants to excel, but he is willing to work at getting better.

"He has been a great role model for our younger players and some that the coaching staff relied upon during tough times to keep everyone committed to staying together and finding a way to succeed."