SWCHS Athletics Announces New Coaches

SWCHS Athletics Announces New Coaches

Published October 3, 2019

Southwest Christian hired three new coaches for the 2019-20 year, including former track & field olympian Shani Johnson.


Shani Johnson was named head track and field coach for the 2020 spring season. Shani has been an assistant/hurdles coach for the Stars since 2017.

Coach Johnson grew up doing gymnastics and running track, graduating from Apple Valley High School. She continued her track career at the University of Minnesota where she competed in the 400m hurdles, long jump, triple jump, 4 x 100 relay, and the 4 x 400 relay. Marks earned her bachelors degree in public relations in 2002. She completed her masters of education in applied kinesiology in 2003.

After graduation, she trained and competed professionally for the triple jump for the next seven years. In 2008, Marks qualified for the Olympic Games in the triple jump by winning at the U.S. Olympic Trials with a career best and Hayward Field record of 47 feet, 2 1/4 inches. She went on to finish 28th in Beijing. Marks is one of three olympians ever to come out of the Minnesota track and field program. She is the only Golden Gopher track and field athlete to compete for Team USA in the Olympic Games.

Shani and her husband, Ron, have two beautiful little girls, Kamryn and Quinn. When she’s not coaching track, she spends her time raising her two girls, leading a BSF group, working out, and occasionally substitute teaching at her daughters’ school.



Matt DeJongAssistant Varsity:

Matt DeJong will be the girls basketball assistant varsity coach for the 2019–20 season. Coach DeJong grew up in a southern suburb of Chicago, where he attended Christian schools from Kindergarten through 12th grade. He was a part of the cross country, basketball, and track teams for all four years of high school.

Matt graduated from Dordt University in May of 2014, married his wife Mia in July, and started his first job at Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis, Missouri in August. During his five years at Westminster, Matt taught math, chaperoned summer trips, ran camps, led the chapel band, and coached track and volleyball.

Matt has enjoyed the start to his first year of teaching math at Southwest Christian, and loves to explore Minneapolis with his wife and Australian Shepherd, Rosie. When he’s not exploring the city, he can often be found cooking, watching his favorite TV shows, or keeping up with his Chicago sports teams.

Junior Varsity:
Eli Groenendyk was hired to fill the junior varsity girls basketball position this year. Eli led his team to the state tournament two years in a row at Pella Christian High School in Iowa. He played competitive, traveling basketball with the Iowa Barnstormers in AAU tournaments. Coach Groenendyk received a basketball scholarship to Northwestern College in Iowa, and during his collegiate career, appeared in the NAIA National Tournament for two seasons.

After graduation, Eli coached the 9th grade boys basketball team at Okoboji High School and assisted with varsity for two years. In 2018, Eli and his wife moved to the Twin Cities to fill the pastor of discipleship position at Calvary Christian Reformed Church and coaching the middle school girls basketball team at Avail Academy. Coach Groenendyk was ordained in the CRC in September 2018 and enjoys making disciples for Christ through youth ministry, small groups, community involvement, drumming on praise team, and preaching. Eli earned his Masters of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago.

Eli and his wife, Hannah, live in Bloomington and love being in Minnesota. They enjoy running around Lake Harriet, biking over the Stone Arch Bridge, and tubing down the Minnehaha Creek.