Progress Pacesetting – Johnson, program focus on big picture

Progress Pacesetting – Johnson, program focus on big picture

Yes, wins and losses and the work for Manchester University women's soccer towards positive outcomes are essential.

However, head coach Christine Johnson and her staff have a larger goal in place.

"[Myself, our staff and student-athletes] have been trying new things [towards positive outcomes]," the Spartans' third-year head coach said. "There's more to just the statistics and wins and losses for us. While those things matter, the holistic development of the entire human being [is the bottom line]."

Johnson's student-athletes have done yoga and been part of book clubs in the past with subjects in nutrition and time management on the horizon.

"At the end of the day, we want to have good human beings," she indicated. "If our program has those types of individuals coming through it, I see that as enabling big picture success as they go out in the world."

The Spartans open camp the weekend of August 17-19 with 25 on the roster which includes a fundamental leadership group core of senior midfielder/forward Maranda Birmingham (Kouts, Ind.); senior goalkeepers Cami Holford (Valparaiso, Ind.) and Caroline Smith (Mason, Ohio) junior midfielder/forward Katie Green (Chesterton, Ind.); and senior defender/midfielder Isabella Zoog (Brownsburg, Ind.). Each of the quintet has appeared in 20-or-more matches with Birmingham and Zoog having played in 40-or-more. Their numbers don't end there, either, as Birmingham, a 2016 all-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference second-team honoree, has produced 20 goals; Green and Zoog have been very dependable in the midfield and defender spots; and the duo of Holford and Smith have held down a significant share of the net-minding tasks to the tune of a combined 3K-plus minutes.

"Each of them brings something different and unique [in regards to leadership]," Johnson noted. "That's great [for the entire team], as it allows the opportunity for this intangible to filter throughout and in a variety of manners."

"This group is the glue for this year's team," she added. "We're very hopeful looking ahead [because of them]."

As the camp and the start of the season approaches ever closer, Johnson is leaning on a leadership group topic to progress the entire team's process [to success].

"We need to have empathy," she said. "Everybody has to have the ability to understand their teammates, our coaching staff, all the way down the line, on and off the field. For us to be where we want to be, the individuals need to convey conviction [in the entire program]."

"That will begin with the leadership group," she added. "There's no doubt it has to start with them."