Initially Coach Swanson pulled Johnston aside to tell her that her US teammates had voted her captain prior to announcing it at a team meeting later in the day. "I was speechless at first. I was really emotional, to have your teammates pick you as the captain, it's pretty special," said Johnston.
Johnston is excited about the trip to Japan as she departs on Aug. 10, but she is also excited about the trip home afterwards to continue her own junior year with the Broncos. "I hope to continue to bring my own Bronco team confidence as I work as the captain of the U20 team," said Johnston.
Johnston will miss the first couple weeks of the season at the U20 World Cup, but hopes her return is seamless as she departs Aug. 10 for Japan. "I want my team to continue to gain confidence this week and the weeks I am gone. I want to come back and have a good transition, like I'm not really gone while I'm gone."
Johnston and sophomore Sofia Huerta will both miss the opening weeks of the season at the World Cup, with Huerta playing for the Mexican team.
Bronco head coach Jerry Smith, in his 26th season at the Santa Clara helm, has coached many Olympic and World Cup medalists and lists what he sees of Johnston's leadership ability. "Over my 25 years at Santa Clara University, I've had the pleasure of working with many great leaders within our women's soccer program," said Smith. "Julie Johnston ranks right up there with the best of them. We are excited about the leadership role she has on our team as one of our team captains and thrilled for her that she has been named captain of the US U-20 World Cup Team. Captain at any level is a tremendous honor. Captain of a US World Cup Team is the highest honor a soccer player can be awarded. We are excited to watch Julie and our US Team compete for the u-20 World Cup, and certainly will be thrilled when she returns to play and lead our team here at Santa Clara University."
The Broncos are working to make their 11th Final Four and their 24th NCAA Tournament in 2012. The schedule starts quickly with matches at Stanford (Aug. 17), Cal (Aug. 23) and Notre Dame (Aug. 31) to open the season schedule.
In two-a-days with the Broncos the last few days, Johnston has been working to be more vocal, especially with the seven newcomers so they know what's expected of them. She would like to see the newcomers understand the game faster, especially with her and Huerta gone playing in Japan. "We are all working hard. We watched the documentary they did on the 1999 team that fell in the NCAA semi-finals to Notre Dame (1-0). We know winning a national title won't be easy, but Jerry has been there and knows how to do it. We need to continue to be open-minded. We can't just do things to "get by". We need to do it the right way every time. Watching the documentary was really eye-opening. It's amazing to see the legacy of players who have been here in the past, especially on that team. Everyone has to be willing to put in the work from the first day and that has been the case."
Johnston is pleased with the team's progress so far during two-a-days and said everyone is looking forward to their team bonding trip to Lake Tahoe the next couple days. "Going on a trip like this to Lake Tahoe helps us get to know each other a lot better, quicker. With our early schedule being so tough, we need to do things at a quicker pace. A faster pace. A much faster pace."
Johnston is most looking forward to the semi-Olympics the team will play together in Tahoe to help them bond and have fun. "Practice has been hard. But we continue to grow together. It's really fun to get away together as a team!"
US Soccer's website describes Johnston:
Julie Johnston (Mesa, Ariz.) The U.S. captain is a versatile player, seeing most of her time during this cycle at defensive midfielder, a position where she excels, but could also see time at center back. She scored three goals at CONCACAF qualifying, including a spectacular strike from outside the box. She has played 41 matches over two seasons for the Broncos and her experience and leadership will be a key to the USA's success.
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