Sept. 16, 2003
Michigan Senior Stephanie Johnson was named the Big Ten field hockey defensive player of the week on September 15th after impressive performances on the field against Ohio University and New Hampshire. Johnson was the Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2002. A team tri-captain, Johnson ranked third on the team in goals scored as a junior while starting all 22 games for the Wolverines. She was also a key member of Michigan's 2001 national championship squad. This was the second player of the week honor for Johnson, she also won the honor on September 9th, 2002. Here is how Stephanie answered some of our questions about choosing Michigan, winning a national championship, and being a team captain.
What did it mean to you to be named Conference Defensive Player of the Year last year?
It was a huge honor for our team because we really pride ourselves on defense. It was an honor for me and I take a lot of pride in it, but it was definitely more of a team accomplishment.
You're from Texas, how did you come to choose Michigan?
It's a pretty simple story actually; my sister was recruited by Michigan as a walk-on. After I decided to play field hockey in college, (head coach) Marcia (Pankratz) jumped on me pretty quickly. And then I just fell in love with being an athlete at the University of Michigan.
What was a bigger adjustment, playing on the collegiate level, or the weather?
I think both, but thankfully I had a little bit of time before the weather set in and I had to deal with playing on the collegiate level first. So I had a couple of months of good weather before the hard stuff kind of set in around December and I didn't have to deal with field hockey after that.
As a defensive player, how have you scored so many goals?
I have the privilege of striking on corners which is one of our special team units. It's kind of like a penalty kill. So I get to be one of the main field players on that.
What do you remember most from the 2001 championship season?
I would probably say the turnaround we made from the end of the regular season and the Big Ten tournament to the step up to the last momentum we had going into the North Carolina game at the beginning of NCAAs. It was kind of misleading in a way to hint on the regular season, 3rd in the Big Ten, and we kind of took off with fire under our butts. We beat North Carolina for the first time ever in collegiate play, which is one of our big rivals, so that was a very, very big accomplishment for us.
You had a serious injury in 2000 that forced you to sit out the entire year. What kind of injury was it, and how did it affect your career or your outlook?
I had back problems here and there freshman year and it ended up materializing into a ruptured disc, and I had to have it operated on in the summer between my freshman and sophomore year. From that role, from being on the sidelines, a place where I had rarely been in my athletic career, really gave me perspective considering I had to be supportive without being active. In an ironic way, I was being proactive by not being active and finding different ways to support my teammates, verbally and really connecting with the different players on the team and the different roles everyone played. Having that unique knowledge and perspective that you're not always going to be on the field, or you're might not always have a field hockey game coming up the next week. But enjoy the people around you and enjoy the experience of being able to play. I just enjoy being a part of Michigan and the Michigan athletic community.
As a team captain, what is your most important role?
You can boil it down to a bunch of different perspectives; you'll always have that captain that leads by example. We have that in pretty much all of our upperclassmen, and I think maintaining that balance, in my role, is very important. One thing, I think, that makes me unique, as an upperclassmen on the team, is being able to listen to different people on the team. I can relate to different experiences that people have, with the injury, and being here a fifth year, the southern climate, being far from home- it allows me to relate to freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors alike.