With the spring sports season cancelled by the UIL because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Herald Democrat is putting a spotlight on the seniors who had their high school careers abruptly come to an end.
College plans: I plan to attend Southeastern Oklahoma State University, where I will be playing for the Savage Storm women’s basketball team. I will major in English with an Emphasis in Writing and minor in Media Communications, and later earn my Master’s degree in Sports Administration.
Superstitions, rituals or traditions before or after competing: No matter what sport I played, I had a tradition of making sure that I felt clean and fresh before the game. When I was a freshman, I always took a shower before every basketball game because I lived close to the high school. As I’ve gotten older, and now live in Sherman, Texas which is 30 minutes from Collinsville, I used to always pack a bag of clean clothes and tidied myself up before every game in every sport. I also always, always, redid my hair & made sure my ponytail was perfect. I loved to feel my best so that I could later play my best.
Song or music that prepares you for competition: Koe Wetzel’s album Harold Saul High has always gotten me pumped; but really, honestly, any good country music always got me ready.
Favorite subject/class: English. I have always loved and enjoyed the efforts of reading and writing, which is why I feel writing and broadcasting will be a joyful line of work for me.
Favorite teacher and why: My freshman English teacher Melissa Johnson, who is also my mom. Writing papers has been a strength of mine since elementary school, but through the years I have sometimes used a form of "pretty writing" to make something sound better than the actual point was, so when I was a freshman and tried this on my mother, she immediately recognized my tactic and told me straight up that I couldn’t "BS the reader" and needed to be more direct with what I wanted to say. Let’s just say ever since then, my writing has definitely improved for the best. Memories in her classroom of reading literature and having intellectual class discussions are ones that I have remembered throughout my high school years.
Favorite coach and why: Daniel Johnson, who is also my dad. He was my favorite coach for more reasons than just being my father. He was my favorite because he helped my teammates and I have the most successful seasons in basketball and softball than we had ever had before. He and I had a chemistry beyond father and daughter. He had a mind for the game and a plan versus every team and I implemented this plan on the field. Without him coaching me, I would not be the athlete I am today. He pushed me to have a great high school career, and in the end, I had one of the best high school careers of all time.
Best teammate and why: My freshman sister Katie Johnson. In volleyball, our chemistry of me setting her up and her spiking it down was next to none. In basketball, I frequently called isolation plays for her and I because we were able to play a two versus two game so smoothly it left defenders off-guard. But my favorite teammate moments of her and I was in softball with as catcher and me as pitcher. She knew exactly where to put my glove for her pitches and I trusted her to frame my close ones and keep everything in front of her. The moments of her and I going off to warm up together before a game and trash talking of who would play better are ones that I will cherish forever.
Best high school sports memory: When I scored my 3,000th point in basketball and my sister was the first person to come high five me with a huge smile on her face. This showed that despite our arguments and trials of figuring out how to play together, she was still my No. 1 supporter no matter what and would always be.
Best high school non-sports memory: Getting my 2019 Camaro as an early birthday gift the summer before my senior year. I was able to drive it every day to school as well as to football games and other events. A white Camaro with black rims has been my dream car, so my parents surprising me with this vehicle was a dream come true.
What you love about your sport: I love the intensity of the "batter versus pitcher" mentality. I love watching a batter enter the box and feeling the confidence that I will, and must, win the battle for an out. I love the heat of the sun on my back with my visor covering my eyes as I step onto the mound, or the stadium lights creating a shadow on me as I packed the dirt into the mound with my clear. I love gripping the ball just right in my glove and feeling the stitches against my knuckles as I get the signal for a junk ball versus a good batter. I love being the lead off batter and finding the sweet spot on my bat for a single or double versus a tough pitcher. Softball has, and always will, hold a special place in my heart for the rest of my life.
Favorite sports movie and why: "Hoosiers." Nothing gets me more motivated than watching the true story of a small town basketball team making it all the way to the state championship game and winning. Every year before basketball season I watched this movie with my dad because it reminded us that no matter how small our school may seem, that didn’t mean we couldn’t compete with any other team and couldn’t win despite all the odds.
Describe the Collinsville Class of 2020: Small but close. Everyone in the class has pretty much grown up together since birth or elementary. I joined the class when I was a sophomore and know everyone by name and personality in my grade. It is a small but effective class.
Biggest lesson learned: Nothing is given. When I say nothing, I mean it. Every accomplishment I have ever earned and every game I have ever won in any sport is because my teammates and I earned it through dedication and practice. One thing I can say about myself is that I am one of the most hardworking athletes. Not the most talented, but definitely one of the most hardworking, and this work ethic has paid off in my high school career.
Biggest influence in your life: Family members. From my parents to my sister, from my grandparents on both sides, to my aunt, they have all impacted me one way or another and helped shape the young woman I am today.
Athlete you look up to: Stephen Curry. He has one of the purest shots I have ever seen behind the three-point line and as a big 3 point shooter myself, I have always enjoyed and loved watching him handle the ball and shoot. For softball, as a pitcher, I look up to Jennie Finch. I went to her camp as a child and remember her specifically telling me that I had an awesome windup for my age, and I remember my dad talking to her dad about what it took to be a good pitcher. I admired her for more than her ability, but because she also worked for everything she ever got.
Reaction to the season being cancelled: My reaction to my senior softball season being cancelled was ultimate surprise and then later, heartbreak. Things like an entire season being cancelled just didn’t happen, and it was something I had never experienced and wasn’t sure how to deal with. Losing my last season with my little sister was more devastating than my season ending, but I know it was for a reason and though it angered and saddened me I have come to accept that it was for the best.
Message to your teammates: Never forget what it takes to win. I truly hope the legacy I have left along with my other senior teammates is one that teaches the younger athletes to keep working for everything they want. While you may not be the most talented, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from being the most hard working.
Message to your freshman self: I hope you are proud of how far we have come. I know how scared and excited you were to join a higher competition level, and I know you were desperately trying to figure out exactly who you were and what you wanted to do. I’m here to tell you that we did it, kid. We had a high school career in every sport that was bigger than ourselves and through it, we discovered the kind of person we were and the woman we were going to become. Hang in there, and in the meantime, try doing your hair a different way than down the middle or a pony tail.
Thing you won’t miss at all: I will not miss Monday practices, especially softball ones. They were the most difficult as we tried to prepare for a Tuesday game and our coaches worked our butts off to prepare for the week.
Thing you will miss the most: I will easily miss many things, and though I could list them all, I know it will not bring them back and only make me sad. But what I will miss the most is Friday night games. The anticipation of the crowd filling up and the weekend coming and the sun going down with the stadium lights flickering on, and then driving home after a good game is what I will miss. Friday night games are like no other, and this simple thing is what I will miss the most.