Huntley's Julia Johnson delivers a pass during a match against Hampshire on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (Brian O'Mahoney / The Courier-News)
Committing to play sports in college, no matter the school, can be a challenge.
Huntley’s Julia Johnson took that to another level in the spring when she committed to Army.
Not only will the senior outside hitter play volleyball and get her education at West Point, she will serve her country as well.
“When I was starting the recruiting process, I never even thought about going into the military,” Johnson said. “The opportunity just kind of came and I thought it was great, so I took it.
“It all happened really fast. I can’t turn down this awesome opportunity that will change my life in a great way.”
Huntley coach Karen Naymola was not surprised Johnson took on the challenge.
“She’s such a dedicated kid, whether it’s volleyball, the track and field she did growing up,” Naymola said. “She’s the type that when she has her mind set on something she’ll do whatever it takes. “West Point got a very talented and great kid.”
The 5-foot-11 Johnson is slightly undersized on the outside. Her track background helps her overcome that with an impressive vertical leap.
She ran the hurdles and competed in the long jump and triple jump before she decided to forgo that sport for club volleyball in high school.
“I try to get up as high as I can every time,” Johnson said. “A lot of the training for track prepared me for working hard in volleyball. Endurance plays a lot into it.
“When you’re jumping a lot in a game, it’s just as tiring as running a mile.”
Johnson has played a key role for Huntley (6-2, 5-2). The Red Raiders bounced back from Fox Valley Conference losses to Crystal Lake Central and Prairie Ridge with Thursday’s win over Hampshire.
Johnson hopes the lessons learned from the losses help Huntley get over the hump in October. The Red Raiders haven’t reached the state finals since 2001.
“This is our year,” Johnson said. “More of a shorter-term goal is that we don’t want to lose any more matches. We want to win that conference title and go to state. That’s our big goal.”
Paul Johnson is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.
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