The women’s soccer team had a strong start to their 2018 season. With a 7-3-0 record, the Wildcats are looking at a successful remainder of the season. Although many players have been performing well, one player is standing this season.
Rachel Johnson, red shirt junior goalie, has not only been performing athletically, but is also paving the way as a leader on the team.
“I’m a very competitive person,” Johnson said. “Soccer is a high-intensity sport so it’s really exciting to be a part of.”
Because competition runs in her blood, ACU seemed like the perfect fit.
“I wanted to play soccer at a Div. I level and ACU has such a competitive conference that I wanted to invest in,” Johnson said.
Competition was not the only aspect Johnson was looking for in a soccer program; soccer has become more than just a sport to the Southland Conference award-winning goalie. It has become an opportunity to find family, community and faith.
“My teammates are my family, they are my backbone,” Johnson said. “I absolutely could not do anything that I do without them. The relationships I have with them are some of the most amazing relationships I have ever had and I could not be more thankful. I would do absolutely anything for them and I know they would do the same for me.”
As Johnson started her collegiate soccer career, things did not seem to fall into place the way she expected. With challenges in both soccer and her personal life, Johnson learned how to make the most of it.
After season-ending injury last year, Johnson learned to be a leader from the sidelines. Johnson continued playing and found ways to be a leader in every aspect of her life.
“I have learned how to overcome so many trials by being mentally tough,” Johnson said. “I credit that to soccer not only the past three years, but having played my whole life. I had to learn to be mentally tough in every situation and always find a solution or a way out of a problem.”
Johnson had the ability to use her mental strength in other aspects of her life. Though soccer is a priority, she did not want to miss out on other opportunities.
Seeking more “tight-knit” communities and the small town feel, she decided to invest her time in various organizations. Johnson works as a lifeguard in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center and is a member of Ko Jo Kai.
“I never like to neglect things I’m a part of,” Johnson said. “I like to give myself to everything I am involved in so naturally, I was an officer in club last year and learned so much about myself and how I can manage my time, become mentally tough and be more strict on getting things done while staying focused on each aspect I was involved in.”
Johnson is a full-time student, athlete, employee and is involved in extracurricular organizations. Instead of trying to keep each aspect separate from her various commitments, Johnson said she looks to integrate all parts of herself into everything she does.
“I put being a student first, then being an athlete next and everything else follows,” Johnson said. “Having supporting classmates, teammates, and club family I was able to be the best version of myself in everything. I am forever grateful for the people that helped me along the way.”
Johnson said her growing faith has impacted her commitments, especially soccer.
“The past three years of college, I have improved in my faith drastically,” she said. “I have always been a Christian but they never fail to hold me accountable each day and make me want to be a great role model for them and everyone around me. I am a better Christian, friend, person and athlete, in that order, because of soccer.”
Coming back from surgery, Johnson said she is looking forward to everything this season has in store. With an impressive start under her belt, she is taking this opportunity to set goals for herself and her team.
“For the rest of this season, I hope to see us win conference and finally get rings because I believe we deserve it and have the heart and drive to do so,” Johnson said. “I hope to see us go to the conference tournament and dominate there winning that while proving some people wrong along the way . Our team chemistry is building each day along with our skills and that’s what leads to a championship but it takes one game at a time and that’s what we’re focused on doing.”
Johnson said she her personal goals focus more on her contributions to the team.
“Coming back from my injury and surgery this last year, I have worked really hard to make a comeback to be there for my team in every way that I can be,” Johnson said. “They drive me to be the very best player I can be and challenge me to compete every day in practice and I do the same for them.”
After being named Southland Conference’s Goalkeeper of the Week earlier this season, Johnson is proving that nothing is going to stop her from giving her best especially for her teammates.
“I have come a long way since surgery, but still have a long way to go and I can promise you that I am working every single day to make sure I am the best for my team because they are amazing for me,” Johnson said.