If you’ve ever admired Tulane Head Coach CJ Johnson’s dapper outfits for press and media appearances, you have one woman to thank: his ever fabulous wife, Angel Johnson. Angel Johnson is the “First Lady” of Tulane Football, and we were able to catch up with Angel as she was getting ready to leave town to go to Orlando for the 2013 Home Depot College Football Awards at Disney. For a second time, the Disney Sports Spirit Award for college football’s most inspirational player is being awarded to a Tulane player. This year’s award is going to former teammate Devon Walker who is recovering from a spinal cord injury. Tulane last received the Disney Sports Spirit Award in 2005.
Angel is a wonderful inspiration herself to all those who know her. She is mom to Janene, Kiejon, Curtis III, Aaron, Angele and Justin. She also looks after Coach diligently, even hiding his phone from him while he recovered from heat exhaustion last season during fall practice. Angel always makes sure that Coach is wearing the perfect tie with his suits and gives him an inspection before he goes out to address the media.
Although Angel’s impeccable taste and enviable wardrobe is legendary, she is most admired throughout the Tulane community for her poise and generosity. Last year Angel hosted the “First Down Divas” fundraiser and football clinic for ladies which benefitted the Devon Walker Fund. New Orleans Saints luminaries such as Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, and Darren Sproles came and spoke to a sold out house. It was an incredible evening and a highlight event of the summer.
Angel took some time to answer a few questions for us about Tulane’s first bowl season under Coach CJ and her thoughts about being a New Orleans Mom.
How are normal game days for you and your family, and do you have something special planned for the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl?
Games are a regular “family affair” since everybody in our family is from the area, and we have such a big family. I am the youngest of 9 siblings and everybody on both sides of our families comes out to show their support. Coach’s mom and sister come, my brothers, sisters, my mom, our cousins, aunts, everybody comes. It’s usually about 50 people. Before the game, we have a family tent and everybody sits in the same section cheering and showing their support.
For the New Orleans Bowl, everybody is staying at the team hotel, and we have set up a hospitality room with ping pong tables and pool tables for all of the coaches’ wives and their families, the
Which was your favorite victory of the season, and what did you and your family do to celebrate?
The Gatorade shower game! Yes, the Tulsa game. It was such a big game for the team since we got bowl eligibility, but also important because of what happened last year at Tulsa with Devon getting hurt. In the spirit of moving on and welcoming good things to start happening to the team, it was a great game to welcome a new era at Tulane. I knew that the players were getting ready to dunk Coach with the Gatorade, and they were following him around as he was being interviewed after the game. I made sure to position myself directly in front of him with my camera.
How do you prioritize family time during the season or leading up to the busy coaching time to keep your family connected?
All 6 of our kids are over 20, so ages 20 to 31. We were blessed that they were all responsible children and kept up with their obligations and school work. Our family centers our life around Coach and Tulane Football. We are so blessed that he is at Tulane and that we get to stay at home in New Orleans. Both of our families are in town and able to help out with obligations when we need them. For the past 6 years, we have a family tradition of taking a Carnival cruise out of New Orleans for seven days: 27 family members, all 6 of our children and our granddaughter. It’s great because Coach can get away from his phone and chill out for a full week. And we enjoy spending the week with our family. He still works out every day, but he’s limited to the amount of work he can do since he is out on a boat. Every year before the season starts, he and I go to Nassau Paradise Island where we have some friends. It’s just the two of us and we go right before the season starts. It’s a relaxing vacation.
As a former Super Bowl (Saints) and College National Championship (Miami) Wife, what was your favorite memory of these games with your family?
The Saints Super Bowl was my favorite because we were in New Orleans and able to enjoy that season at home with our family. It was wonderful to get to go to all of the games in our hometown. We were able to take all of our kids to Miami for the Super Bowl and take pictures on the field. Coach is very driven and a hard worker, and I am so happy that he was able to see his success that season. It’s not always that people get to see their accomplishments, so it was nice for our family to be there along for the ride that season.
We heard you hosted many of the team members at your home for Thanksgiving. How do you manage to keep it all together so well?
Each of our family members has a role. I hire a caterer, but there are family who like to bake and bring desserts, so they participated that way. We have family members who are the kitchen crew, so they handle set up and cleaning. And then there’s a family yard crew who handle putting out chairs and the drinks. All of this allows Coach and myself to be able to entertain. Both of our parents are great cooks so they know how to handle the kitchen. This year, we hosted only Tulane players and some local friends, in addition to our family.
Any final thoughts about being a “New Orleans Mom?”
New Orleans is such a special city, a close knit city, an enthusiastic city. Everybody thrives on being hands on with their families. Family is always first and part of what we do. We enjoyed taking our kids with us to everything, going to the games, Jazz Fest, Essence Fest, Mardi Gras, riding in the parades. Our kids ride with us. And I just have to say that we are so glad to be at home and at Tulane. We grew up admiring Tulane with our parents taking us to games at Tulane stadium. We are so grateful that Tulane has shown us so much love and support and embraced us.
About Fergie Lewis
Fergie Lewis is a forty-something native Texan who fell in love with New Orleans during a college tour visit to Newcomb College her senior year in high school. She is wife to Coach Hullabaloo and “Town Mom” to 5 generations of Tulane co-eds through the Newcomb Town Mom program. Professionally, Fergie is an award winning wedding stationery specialist and designs one of a kind invitation suites for discerning New Orleans brides. She chronicles her sports and tailgating obsession at The Hullabaloo Huddle blog.