If you watched Carrie Johnson run around the soccer field today you would notice her ball skills, her speed and her agility. She plays as well if not better than most girls on the field. What you wouldn’t notice is that Johnson has had three knee surgeries and is playing on an injured knee yet again. From the sidelines, a spectator would never notice a difference since she shows no physical implications. She continues to play as hard as the next girl, never stopping, never complaining.
Johnson started her soccer career at a young age. Most young athletes start a sport because of some influence from a family member. In this case, Johnson began playing because of a close friend.
“When I was five or six years old I started playing for the first time. One of my best friends from the neighborhood got me to start playing and before long I was very much involved in the sport. We played together for years, a lot of the time playing against the boys in the neighborhood.”
Johnson and her friend played together in high school, competing with club teams through the years. Though she tried her hand at track and field hockey, but her heart was committed to soccer from the start. From a young age, Johnson knew that she wanted to play collegiate soccer.
“I knew early on in high school that I wanted to play soccer in college. It was never a doubt in my mind.”
Despite her talents, furthering her soccer career was not an easy accomplishment for Johnson. Before she graduated from Potomac High School in Maryland, she had been under the knife three times for knee injuries. Many athletes would call it quits after the first injury, but Johnson pushed through the three major setbacks.
“One of the biggest problems I faced in playing soccer in college was my knees. Because I had had surgery, I wasn’t recruited very heavily. I didn’t have a whole lot of choices. After I visited Penn, spoke with the coach, and met the team, my decision was made a lot easier.”
Johnson is currently a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences as a diplomatic history major with a minor in Spanish. She recently came back from a trip to Valparaiso, Chile where she traveled and had the opportunity to intern with the National Congress. Her future is open right now although she has a general idea of what she wants to do.
“My plan right now is just to work for a year or two. Eventually I would like to go to grad school and continue my education.”
As for competition after college, Johnson says that it will be time to hang up her cleats.
“As much as I love soccer, when my college career is over so is my competitive career. It will always be a part of my life but further competition is out of the question. I’m ready to change my direction and tackle the working world.”
Although her career is coming to an end, Johnson’s season is far from over. She continues to play hard day in and day out. As she plays today, you can hardly tell that she has had surgery on her knees three times. You also couldn’t tell surgery number four is looming on the horizon following the end of the season. As you watch Carrie Johnson play few words can explain her endurance and effort on the field. The love for game overrides the pain and Johnson's resiliency shines through.
~ Written by Matt Valenti, C’06, for the Oct. 9 Game Day Program