Alex Conti, Afsoon Johnston named 2014 U.S. Women’s World Team Coaches

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | Aug. 27, 2014, 3:49 p.m. (ET)
Alex Conti of Fredonia, N.Y. and Afsoon Johnston of San Diego, Calif. have been named as volunteer U.S. Women’s World Team Coaches for the 2014 World Wrestling Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The women’s wrestling competition is September 10-12.

They will work with National Women’s Coach Terry Steiner, and Assistant National Women’s Coaches Seiko Yamamoto, Erin Tomeo and Emma Randall in the preparation of the team and coaching the athletes at the World Championships.

Conti will be a World Team coach for the second straight year, while Johnston will be on her first assignment as a World Team coach.

Conti helped lead the 2013 U.S. Women’s World Team to a third-place finish at the World Championships, led by three World medalists. Conti is a club coach with the New York Athletic Club. He also coached at the 2012 Olympic Games and has led U.S. Senior Pan American teams, U.S. Junior World Teams and a variety of U.S. tour teams.

“I am so honored that words cannot express how I feel about being selected to coach the team again,” said Conti. “I believe this team is as talented as it could possibly be. I am so encouraged by how hard they are working. I am extremely excited about the World Championships and how we are going to do there. They are peaking at the right time. The team members have self-expectations that are high. They are putting it all out there. What more can you ask? They are showing true champion focus.”

Johnston returned to coaching in the last few years after taking time to raise her family. She was a 2001 Junior World Team coach and a 2001 Senior Pan American Team coach. Johnston has coached U.S. teams in four different countries the last two seasons. A star on the early U.S. Women’s World Teams, Johnston won a 1990 World silver medal and a 1989 World bronze medal and competed for over a decade on the international scene under her maiden name Afsoon Roshanzamir.

“I was very honored to be selected,” said Johnston. “I thought about what I could bring to the program. Terry Steiner brings great technique and Alex Conti is an outstanding coach. What I can bring is the bridge between the female athletes and the male coaches. I am a female coach that has been in the athletes’ shoes before. Hopefully, I can bring the experience to be that bridge for this team.

Like Conti, Johnston has high expectations for this U.S. Women’s World Team.

“On paper, this team can win it all. We can be the World Team champions. It is all going to come down to that day. Each athlete on their day of competition must be focused and do what they can do to be on that podium. We are very capable of bringing home individual gold medals. We are overdue for this. Every athlete must do her part on her day.”

ALEX CONTI BIOGRAPHY

Alex Conti of Fredonia, N.Y. has been named a U.S. Women’s World Team coach for the second straight year. In 2013, he helped lead the 2013 U.S. Women’s World Team to a third-place finish at the World Championships, led by three World medalists.

Conti was part of the American coaching staff for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where Team USA was led by Olympic bronze medalist Clarissa Chun.

Conti has served as a U.S. women’s coach for a number of international events since 2008. He was on the Team USA staff at the Junior World Championships from 2009-11. Five of the seven 2013 U.S. Senior World Team members competed on the Junior World Teams that he helped coach. Conti also coached the 2008 Junior Pan American Championships team in Ecuador.

In 2013, Conti was part of the coaching staff at the Pan American Championships in Panama City, Panama, along with the Battle at the Falls event in Niagara Falls and the Poland Open. He has also coached U.S. tour teams to Belarus, Spain and Azerbaijan.

In 2013, he was named women’s coach for the New York Athletic Club. The women’s team for the New York AC won the Div. I team title at the 2013 U.S. Open, and placed second in Div. I at the 2014 U.S. Open.

Conti, a native of Fredonia, N.Y., has been a teacher and coach in the public school system for 27 years (nine in California and the past 18 in New York).

Conti has been a highly successful high school coach in California and New York. Since 2003, he has coached 22 state placewinners, 11 state finalists and five state champions in New York coaching at Fredonia High School. In 2009, he coached the first female, Carlene Sluberski, to ever place in the New York state tournament. Sluberski placed second.

He served as the New York USA Wrestling women’s director from 2008-11, helping coach New York athletes at the ASICS/Vaughan Cadet and Junior Nationals.

Conti wrestled collegiately for Ball State, Jamestown (N.Y.) Community College and SUNY-Brockport. He compiled a 9-1 record against international competition, including going 3-1 for a team that competed in Iraq in 1980.

Conti and his wife, Stacy, have a son, Christopher, and a daughter, Alissa. Christopher wrestled for the University of Buffalo and Alissa runs track and cross country and for the State University of New York in Fredonia.

AFSOON JOHNSTON BIOGRAPHY

Afsoon Johnston of San Diego, Calif. has been named 2014 U.S. Women’s World Team Coach, her first assignment with a Senior World Team.

Johnston has been active coaching a number of U.S. Senior teams in the last two years. She was a coach at the FILA Golden Grand Prix Finals in Azerbaijan in 2013 and 2014. She also coached Senior teams at the Poland Open and Grand Prix of Spain, as well as the 2013 Battle at the Falls in Niagara Falls, Canada.

Johnston returned to coaching in the last few years after taking time to raise her family. She was a coach at the 2001 Pan American Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where the team won four of the six gold medals and had a medal in every weight class. She also coached the U.S. team at the 2001 Junior World Championships in Martigny, Switzerland, where the USA won two medals.

Competing under her maiden name Afsoon Roshanzamir, she was a star in the early years of the U.S. Women’s wrestling program, before it was an Olympic sport. She was considered one of the true pioneers of women’s wrestling in this nation.

In 1989, at the World Championships in Martigny, Switzerland, she was the first American woman to win a World medal when she captured a bronze medal. In 1990, she was a World silver medalist. She made four U.S. World teams, including a fifth place finish in the 1992 World Championships

Johnston won three U.S. Open national titles and placed second twice. She was also second at the World Team Trials two times. She captured international medals in the USA, France, Russia, Poland and Canada.

She competed on the men’s wrestling team at UC-Davis, and was also on the varsity wrestling team for Independence High School in San Jose, Calif. She made her first U.S. Senior World freestyle team while still competing in high school.

Johnston became the first woman to referee a Div. I wrestling match, when she filled in as referee for a UC-Davis dual meet when the assigned official did not attend. She was a local wrestling referee on the high school level while she attended college.

Johnston worked as a physical therapist for many years. She is married to Byron Johnston, and they have three children, Aiden, Samira and Layla.