Overcoming it all
Year: Graduate student
Hometown: Lilburn, Georgia
For a basketball guard who’s constantly busy, Raven Johnson’s injuries forced her to slow down. On Sept. 30, 2020, she tore her ACL in practice, missing her senior year. The previous year, the AAC All-Academic Team member received a medical hardship redshirt after injuring her knee early in ECU’s season.
Then, the unimaginable: Her father died.
“It was a rough time when I didn’t have basketball as an outlet. Everything was hitting me all at once. I had never been so still in my entire life,” Johnson said.
When the NCAA granted another year of eligibility because of the pandemic, Johnson decided to return.
“Personally, I wouldn’t have wanted to quit, and I know my dad wouldn’t have wanted me to quit,” she said.
Her parents, Carolyn and James Johnson, were college student-athletes who got their children involved in sports at an early age.
“Growing up, I watched him sacrifice a lot just so I could play and my siblings could play,” Raven said. “He always wanted me to be the best that I could be.”
Johnson earned her bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology with a minor in nutrition in 2020. She is pursuing a master’s in kinesiology with a concentration in sport and exercise psychology — an emerging career specialty — and certificate in sport management.
While rehabilitating, Johnson supported her teammates. “Whatever positive energy I have, I try to make sure I use that to give it to someone else and help fill them up a little bit,” she said.
Women’s head coach Kim McNeill said she’s excited to have Johnson back, one of four graduate students on the team.
“With everything that Raven’s gone through, I don’t know that there’s too many people — not just athletes — that could get up and have a smile on their face every day and come out here and try to get through it,” McNeill said. “I think it shows the younger kids that you can do it, regardless of what walls or adversity you might hit, that you are strong enough to push through.”