September 30, 2010

Newest Soccer Member Johnston Sets the Bar High

Written By Student Assistant Chelsea Flintoft '14

As the No. 10 ranked Broncos women's soccer team heads into the WCC with a preseason record of 7-2-2 and with a large roster of 30 players, you may think it would be difficult for a freshman to get playing time during games. Luckily for her, this is not the case for standout freshman Julie Johnston (JJ). From Mesa, Ariz., Johnston won the Arizona State Cup eight times with her club team and was honored to be part of the U.S. U18 National team, which traveled to Spain.

As a talented and hardworking player on the Arizona Regional IV team the center midfielder/forward already has one career goal, three career assists and 21 shots on goal this season.

Recently, SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCU) sat down with Johnston to discuss how she chose Santa Clara University, her quirky pregame rituals and what she hopes to accomplish over the next four years.

SCU: As you enter your first season at the collegiate level, how does it compare to your previous experiences as a soccer player?

JJ: Division I soccer is a lot different than club ball for sure. The pace and speed is a lot faster as well as the level of aggressive competition. I believe that by playing with the US Women National Team, it has prepared me to play college level soccer just because of the level of competition I was exposed to. It gave me a sense of confidence going into college as a freshman.

SCU: What are your goals for your freshman season? What are you most looking forward to?

JJ: As a freshman, my goals for the season are to help the team reach a National Championship, but also contribute as many assists I can. I want to go out to practice and make myself, as well as the team, better with a hardworking mentality. I'm looking forward to playing other teams in the top 10 because of the competition and us being the underdogs coming from a difficult past seasons due to injuries.

SCU: Why did you choose to play soccer at Santa Clara University?

JJ: I have a funny story about how I chose SCU. I went to a camp here when I was 11 years old and I absolutely hated it. I cried every night and even called my mom to come and take me home. To make it even worse, I had terrible blisters from my new cleats that I was so excited to wear and I swore that I would never come here again. Then I got a letter from the coaches saying that they were really interested in me coming here. I immediately looked at my mom and said "OH NO WAY!" But she convinced me to take a trip and see what SCU had to offer. I visited 12 other top schools for soccer, but Santa Clara really sold me with the coaching staff as well as the team. The coaches and I have the same view on the game, and the other members on the team are so close and have the same dreams and goals as I do. We are all hard-workers and really want to make our dreams a reality. I have never met a team so excited to get better, and it makes me want to play my best all the time.

SCU: Did you always want to play college soccer as a kid?

JJ: I started playing soccer when I was three years old just for fun. But it wasn't really until my sophomore year that I really saw myself wanting to play college soccer and even at the professional level. My club coach, Les Armstrong, really pushed me to the top of my game and helped me believe that I could go far with soccer. It made me a better player as well as a more confident player.

SCU: Do you have any pregame rituals?

JJ: Before games I always have to be dancing or listening to music to keep my mind of the game so I don't get too nervous. I have little OCD things I do like putting my right sock on first and little things like that. Mostly, I just need to be joking around with the team in our locker room before hand and everything will be fine. Right before the game starts, I have to do this really embarrassing thing where I snap and flick my wrists to keep me focused (laughs).

SCU: What have you been focusing on most to help improve your game during the off-season and preseason?

JJ: During practice, I have really been working on my free kicks and finishing because during close games these are the things that will really decide between a win or a loss. But we still work on every aspect, even if it is the basics, at practice. You can never over practice on the little things. I play both center mid as well as forward, so learning both positions allows me to be a better player because I know the runs I need to make and where to pass the ball.

SCU: What do you like most about the Bronco soccer team?

JJ: The best part about the Bronco team is our passion for the game. Everyone is willing to help you out with anything and will put you before themselves any day. Everyone wants a National Championship and we realized that no one can win one by themselves; we must all work together to accomplish our goal.

SCU: What would you like to accomplish over your next four years here at Santa Clara, as a student and as a soccer player?

JJ: School has always been really difficult for me. I chose SCU because of the personal attention and willingness the staff gives each student, which I didn't get in high school. Over the next four years, I want to keep the tradition of playing great soccer at SCU and add a couple of Final Four appearances to the list.