Bethel College named Gabe Johnson as its new men’s and women’s tennis coach.
Johnson succeeds Matthew Barlow, who announced his resignation to become the men’s coach at NCAA Division I University of Nebraska-Omaha.
"We wish Matthew all the best in his new role," Bethel athletic director Tony Hoops said. "Coaching at the Division I level is something he has aspired to do and so we respect his decision and thank him for allowing Bethel to be a small part of his story."
Barlow was hired in July. He previously was a player and later assistant coach at Washburn University in Topeka.
"Even though it was a short stop, I am so thankful for my time spent at Bethel College," Barlow said. "God is definitely present at this special place and moving through so many staff and students."
He coached Bethel through the fall season, which included the KCAC individual championships and the ITA-NAIA individual championships.
Barlow takes over a UN-O team that was 8-17 last season, 1-5 in the Summit League.
Johnson graduated from Bethel in May after playing four years with the Threshers. He was a KCAC men’s player of the week as a sophomore and a two-time KCAC Sportsmanship Award winner.
He helped the team to the KCAC post-season tournament as a junior and a senior. The team posted its first winning season in dual meets in five years his senior season.
"Gabe Johnson is who and what Bethel College tennis is all about," Hoops said. "A tremendous player, student, teammate and person. He is the right person for this job.
"His passion for Bethel College tennis is contagious. This program needs the stability that Gabe Johnson will bring to it and I look forward to watching him lay the foundation for great things to come under his leadership."
"This is a great opportunity here at Bethel College," Johnson said. "I am extremely thankful to Tony Hoops and the Bethel College staff for believing in me and providing me the chance to return to my alma mater.
"In my four years as a student-athlete, I was able to see firsthand the growth and development of the athletics department. It is a great staff that they have put together here and it is an honor to be joining the team."
In addition to his on-court honors, he was a two-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete and was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team as a senior.
Johnson has been working as a pro at the Genesis Heath Club in Salina. He is a native of Abilene, where he was Class 4A state runner-up for Abilene High School as a senior.
"Bethel College has been a special place in my life and development as a person," said Johnson. "My time here as a player provided me so much in terms of experience and growth, so I am very excited to have the opportunity to return to lead the tennis programs. Being chosen as the head coach for a historically great Bethel College tennis program is a huge honor."
"Throughout a difficult past year of coaching transition, I've had the opportunity to work with Gabe as a captain of the team," Hoops said. "During this time, it became very apparent to me that he would be a tremendous head coach in the future. While I didn't anticipate that time being this year, the time is now and I have complete confidence in his professionalism, coaching, and leadership."
Bethel begins its spring season Feb. 15 at home against Doane. The men are 0-2 in fall dual meets, while the women are 0-3. Conference play begins in the spring.
"Each program has remained a consistently solid competitor within the conference," Johnson said, "and we will continue to work to raise the level of both the men's and women's teams.
"We know what Bethel tennis has been and can continue to be, and our goal will be to carry on that tradition of success."