Kendreaus Adams-Johnson doesn’t like to gamble, but he still came up a big winner.
The youth basketball coach at Southwark School was selected by PrimoHoagies as the winner of the Most Valuable Coach contest. He received a pair of Super Bowl tickets, airfare and hotel accommodations along with the title of “Most Valuable Coach,” which was earned for his hard work at the South Philly K-8 school on S. 9th Street over the last couple of years.
“It’s unbelievable,” Adams-Johnson said. “I had no idea this was happening. They snuck this right under my nose. When I first heard I won, I was thinking maybe I’ll get a gift card or something, but when I heard this was the prize, I was blown away.”
Adams-Johnson will leave for Las Vegas on Feb. 10 and will get to be a part of the Big Game experience as he and his girlfriend will be in attendance when the defending-champion Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada on Feb. 11. He will return home on Feb. 12.
“This will be my first time going to Vegas,” Adams-Johnson said. “I was joking around telling everyone that I don’t gamble because I never win. But there’s way more to do out there. It’s a nice excuse to go and I’m going to find some good things to do.”
The beloved basketball coach and Danville, Virginia native was selected for the big prize after Southwark teacher Jennifer O’Shaughnessy spearheaded a video submission showing Adams-Johnson’s dedication and exceptional commitment to his students both on and off the court. O’Shaughnessy received a $100 PrimoHoagies gift card for her effort.
Southwark celebrated the big win with an assembly in the school’s auditorium on Feb. 1. PrimoHoagies President and CEO Nicholas Papanier Jr. and the PrimoHoagies team, along with special guest Anthony Gargano, honored the coach by presenting two giant tickets in anticipation of the game. They were joined by about 150 students who enthusiastically cheered on their coach. Many were players he formed strong bonds with over the last two years.
“(Coaching) has been so much more,” Adams-Johnson said. “I came in naively thinking I was going to be running a zone and offenses and I’ve been doing way beyond that. It’s something rewarding that I didn’t know was there. It fulfilled a purpose for me that I didn’t know could be filled. These kids have given me a spark that keeps me going.”
Adams-Johnson is in just his second year of coaching at Southwark, but his impact was immediate.
“One of the Reasons PrimoHoagies wanted to do this was we thought we wanted to highlight people in the community who are really doing well and helping people,” Gargano told the audience. “And when it comes to sports, we’re going to go after our local coaches. You guys know Coach K. He’s here for you. He has time for you guys. He’ll teach you. More importantly, he loves you.”
Originally opened at 15th and Ritner streets in South Philadelphia in 1992, PrimoHoagies has expanded into seven states with nearly 100 locations. Despite the contest spanning the entire region, the hoagie company didn’t have to look far to find a hero within the community.
“You guys are incredibly lucky to have Coach K,” Gargano said. “
On the court, Southwark is having another great season.
“We’re doing well,” Adams-Johnson said. “We’ve grown a lot since October and we tried to grow our identity on defense. We’re probably one of the best defensive teams in the league, and we’re climbing. We have a playoff run coming up in a couple of weeks and we’re getting where we need to be.”
He coaches a great group of kids who were willing to buy in to their coach’s philosophies, whether it involved basketball or life beyond the court.
“I use basketball as a dangling carrot to teach these guys the ins and outs of life,” Adams-Johnson said. “These kids deal with a lot in their home life and school life. For me to be able to share my views and my insight and help them on their path of life is a no-brainer for me. I feel like this is the ultimate way to give back and inspire.”
It will be tough to tear Coach Adams-Johnson away from his squad for a few days but he plans on seeing a great football game, even if it doesn’t involve his favorite team.
“I’m an Eagles fan so I can’t say anything more than that,” Adams-Johnson said with a laugh. “But I love football so it’s going to be a good game. I get to see the great Patrick Mahomes and the great San Francisco 49ers. May the best team win.”