Its just fitting that her preferred book is “The Alchemist,” an unique by Paulo Coelho about “journeys.” And as Johnson put it, “it type of aligns with me in my life today.”
On the road to becoming the first Black woman to represent Team USA in water polo and a four-time recipient of the Womens Water Polo Player of the Year by Swimming World Magazine, calling her career a journey nearly seems like an understatement. But shes on a mission to leverage her career into something bigger, to inspire others to believe beyond their constraints. Her mission began as a kid in Miami doing bellyflop contests with her siblings in her households backyard pool, to ending up on a Team USA mural campaign from Secret in New York City, Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Tricks mural for their “Just #WatchMe” initiative includes Team USA icons Alex Morgan, Oksana Masters, Chelsea Wolfe, Chiney Ogwumike and in the leading left corner theres Johnson.
Possibly the best water polo goalkeeper of perpetuity, Ashleigh Johnson of Team U.S.A., talked to FanSided.
Team USAs water polo goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson is a reading enthusiast.
Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Secret Deodorant
Ashleigh Johnson knows the obstacles of Olympic season in a pandemic
With Team USAs ladiess water polo going for their third consecutive gold medal at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, this might be the toughest feat for the group. This team is playing during a pandemic and a year later, after the Olympics were held off.
” A year-and-half ago we thought we were at our peak as a team,” Johnson said. “Looking at my teammates, weve all grown in some really amazing methods the previous year-and-a-half … its shown in the previous couple of games however were not even near where we can be at.”
Team USA is 17-0 this season and will open up the Olympics with their arranged game versus Japan on July 23. Such as her perfect on the area reaction to a hypothetical concern this author asked, in regards to who she would desire to play her in a motion picture if there was an Ashleigh Johnson biopic in the works.
A scholar, a leader, the worlds biggest water polo goalkeeper and it looks like if she wished to she could most likely include casting director to her resume. Exists anything Ashleigh Johnson cant do?
There were also the stereotypes associated with Black individuals and water, which she didnt know of until she left home and joined the swim group. She didnt let this discourage and cited her support system– her mom Donna Johnson and water polo club coach Carroll Vaughan– for pressing her to continue standing out in the sport she loved. Her coaches Genai Kerr and Omar Amr, two professional athletes of color who completed on the 2004 Mens Olympic water polo group in Athens, showed Johnson what was possible with their quality in the swimming pool, Johnson stated.
” Understanding the important things that made me different– the color of my skin, where I was from, those things made me more powerful, more stronger and those were type of my very power. Those are things that empower me to be myself,” Johnson said.
Now that shes in the position where shes an active elite professional athlete, she takes her spotlight in stride.
Im “betting all of the little women or little kids who look up to me and see that Im a mirror … Im showing future them,” Johnson stated.
Getting the call to join Team USA for the Olympics
Prior to joining Team USA Johnson was a student-athlete at Princeton University. This was a school she decided to enlist at because of her desire to “prioritize balance” in her life by pursuing both greater education and water polo at a high level.
The psychology significant absolutely had balance down, ending up being a campus legend as the all-time leader in wins (100) and saves (1,362). The professional athlete, who was ultimately called the Collegiate Water Polo Associations Defensive Player of the Week 19 times, received a call to join Team USAs water polo squad in the middle of her college experience.
Johnson confesses she was at first reluctant to join the squad due to the fact that water polo was a hobby for her and prior to Team USAs revealed interest in including her, it wasnt something she initially envisioned. She decided to join and came in with the objective to grow as a professional athlete. She did more than simply grow and became a sensation as the top goalkeeper at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, helping Team USAs water polo squad secure its second successive gold medal. This was all on top of being the very first Black woman to represent Team USA in her sport.
” That environment will tell you how hard it is to complete at this level, to be taken part in this level; however its so gratifying,” she revealed.
Since she made the decision she credits her mindset of “staying in the moment” to her success. The 2019 FINA World Championships MVP explained that betting Team USA includes investing six-and-a-half hours training in addition to group activities.
” Its either work, rest, recovery,” Johnson stated. “Theres no area for the distractions of thinking too far in the future or being stuck in the past.”
Johnson admits she was at very first reluctant to sign up with the squad due to the fact that water polo was a pastime for her and prior to Team USAs expressed interest in adding her, it wasnt something she initially visualized. She did more than just grow and ended up being a sensation as the leading goalkeeper at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, assisting Team USAs water polo team secure its second consecutive gold medal.
” The Watch Me campaign is helping girls remain in sport and its providing the resources and representation that I wish I had when I was a young girl in sport,” Johnson stated. “Me being in that leading left corner is simply a representation of the power of business lending their support … supplying platforms for professional athletes like me, ladies like me, and females of color like me, to reveal their quality and create those paths to chances that young women in sport are worthy of.”
The professional athlete called “Top Goalkeeper” in the 2021 FINA World League Super Final mentioned the fact that young girls are two times as likely to leave of sports. When she acknowledged the challenges in her own journey in sports there was one that stood apart: “Not having anybody who looked liked me in this sport at the elite level.”
There were also the stereotypes associated with Black individuals and water, which she didnt understand of up until she left home and signed up with the swim group. She didnt let this discourage and cited her assistance system– her mom Donna Johnson and water polo club coach Carroll Vaughan– for pressing her to continue standing out in the sport she enjoyed.
” I desire other young Black ladies to develop that passion and love for how they move through the water, how water feels on their skin and not be affected by or deterred by that stereotype that Black individuals do not belong,” in the water, Johnson said.
While this wasnt her intent when she started water polo, she included this duty when she took notification that she was becoming a family name and receiving DMs from individuals of color about how she affected them. Johnson researched the history of Black people that came prior to her in aquatic sports as well as the lack of access to aquatics. Her coaches Genai Kerr and Omar Amr, two professional athletes of color who contended on the 2004 Mens Olympic water polo team in Athens, showed Johnson what was possible with their excellence in the swimming pool, Johnson said.