Johnson kicks off BU rookie class


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Georgia Johnson is more prepared than most to move for school and volleyball.

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Georgia Johnson is more prepared than most to move for school and volleyball.

The Athabasca, Alta., product is the first player to commit to the Brandon University Bobcats women’s volleyball team for the 2023-24 Canada West season. She already left home in Grade 11, however, 700 kilometres southwest to Outlook, Sask., to attend Lutheran Christian Bible Institute.

She attended the boarding school — where her mother, Kim, and other family members went — for its faith component and benefited from a strong athletics program. Johnson built on a relatively new volleyball foundation and feels ready for the next step.

“You become really independent in everything you have to do that maybe is done for you at home. Keeping yourself disciplined is such a huge thing,” Johnson said of moving out, adding she’s stoked to move to Brandon.

“When I got the tour of the city and the campus, it felt comfortable so I’m excited for that, I’ve gotten over the curve of leaving home for the first time … so I don’t have to deal with that and I think I’ll have a good support system there.”

Johnson’s connection to Bobcats head coach Lee Carter dates back to his college days at Camrose Lutheran — now the University of Alberta-Augustana — where he met Johnson’s father, Jeff. Carter said the family has a big sports background, which has helped Georgia understand how teams work best. Carter saw her play with the 18-and-under Huskie Volleyball Club last year when visiting Jeff.

Georgia knew he was there and felt nervous but played well enough to impress. Carter joined the team on a bowling outing that evening and Jeff made sure his kid made a good impression.

“My dad, he’s my biggest fan,” Georgia said. “He’s been the one to help me through all of it, guide me through all of it. We weren’t really a volleyball family before this. He’s the one that stuck his neck out obviously with Lee ‘this is my friend, you should talk to him,’ helped me through it all.”

Johnson only started playing volleyball in Grade 9, after growing up in hockey and soccer. She joined a Fog Volleyball Club team in Edmonton, 140 kilometres south of Athabasca, with coaches Colleen and Greg Elgert.

That last name should be familiar to Canadian volleyball fans as their son Max led the Alberta Golden Bears to a U Sports title last season while Sam currently plays for the Thompson Rivers men’s team.

Johnson had her first club season cut short due to COVID-19, and the virus significantly impacted the 2020-21 school year but she cracked Team Alberta’s 16U squad that summer. The five-foot-10 attacker is currently with the Saskatoon Stealth club. She adjusted to outside hitter from middle blocker this year, and Carter plans to keep her there.

“I’m a really coachable player and I’m really physical,” Johnson said. “I can learn it quick if I’m told what to do and I love feedback, I just thrive off of it. If you tell me what to do I’ll listen and put my full attention on you.

“I’m just so excited for if I can just eat up everything they give me and pick their brains, I love the sport and the technical and the knowledge side of volleyball.”

Johnson talked to a few Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference schools and had an offer on the table but said the difference was the chance to play at the top level in Canada.

“I couldn’t ignore the fact of how welcoming, how the coaching staff and the teammates, the atmosphere of Brandon, how encouraging they were when I went for a visit really turned my head,” Johnson said. “I’m super excited … Playing U Sports has been a dream of mine ever since I realized how much I love volleyball.

“I’m so lucky I landed a great team with great coaches and girls that are super supportive.”

QUICK HITS: The 0-18 Bobcats are on their bye week and return to action at home next week against the University of Saskatchewan (7-11). The BU men (9-7) visit the Fraser Valley Cascades (4-14) this weekend in Abbotsford, B.C.


» Twitter: @thomasmfriesen

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