Barksdale to replace Johnson as athletic director


Nathan Bolster

Coach Patricia Barksdale coaching the girls soccer team to a 2-1 win against McIntosh.

Archer Streelman and Cate Barton

Athletic Director Patrick Johnson plans to leave Midtown at the end of the school year, looking for a change. Johnson has worked at Midtown since 2019, and is also a Grady alum, graduating in 2001. 

Midtown plans to replace him with Blair Barksdale, the girls soccer head coach and special education teacher. Barksdale led the girls soccer team to three region championships, two Final Four finishes, and a state championship runner-up in her three years of coaching. Barksdale was also awarded Region Of the Year for all three years, and named the All Star coach in 2023. 

“It’s just time for a new start,” Johnson said. “It’s bittersweet leaving Midtown, for sure. I’m excited for the next chapter for myself. I’m going to miss this place a lot. I went to school here. I’ve invested a lot of my time and energy here. I’m going to miss being around the people everyday and the stuff I’m used to, but there’s a time to move on, and that time is now for me, and I’m glad for coach Barksdale coming in and taking over.”

Junior Briaiah Lewis, starter on the girls basketball team, credits Johnson for putting a similar effort into both the girls and boys programs.

“Even though I’m excited for [coach] Barksdale to be the new athletic director, I am definitely going to miss [coach Johnson],” Lewis said. “He was always very supportive of me and the girls basketball team. Something that I thought was special about [coach Johnson]is that he put just as much effort into the girls’ programs as he did for the boys.”

Head boys basketball coach Isaac Taylor credits Johnson as an inspiration.

“As an athletic director, coach Patrick always thought about all students when making decisions and pushed Midtown Athletics to what we know it to be today,” Taylor said. “Coach Patrick’s ability to see things from different perspectives allowed him to support students and staff in only ways that a true leader could.”

Johnson is hopeful for Midtown’s future and believes Barksdale will continue building the sports programs.

“I could not be happier for coach Barksdale,” Johnson said. “She is going to do a great job. She obviously knows Midtown, and she’s had a lot of success as a coach. She has experience on the admin side of things, and I’m really excited for her and Midtown. I think she is going to come in and build on the success that we’ve had.”

Using her experience coaching and teaching at Midtown, Barksdale plans to keep improving athletics as AD.

“I want to keep the program growing, and win more region championships, more state championships,” Barksdale said. “We want to work towards growing each program to where more students are interested and people living in our district or in our cluster want to come to or stay at Midtown. I am excited for the new adventure. I am excited to work with all the sports and all the coaches and all the students and just be able to push all athletics forward at Midtown.”

Barksdale believes becoming the Midtown athletic director is a step in the right direction for her career. 

“I think it was a career move that at my age and at this time was an opportunity I could not pass up,” Barksdale said. “To be the AD at Midtown is pretty special, and many people would probably want this job; I just thought it was the right time in my career. I have been teaching for 13 years, so it was just time to make the change.” 

Despite the excitement that comes with her new job, Barksdale will miss coaching and teaching. However, she plans to continue to interact with her students and players. 

“Teaching Wise, I will miss working with the students everyday, as challenging as it is, it’s still so much fun to see them grow academically, and I will miss the science part, but I will still be in the building and get to see them. Coaching Wise, it was very hard to leave. I will miss the day-to-day with the girls; I will miss the game because soccer has been a part of my life since I was 5, but I am still here.”