Athena senior to play at Syracuse | News
When Riley Johnson joined the Greece Athena softball team as a seventh-grader she was a much different player that she is today. After six years of playing for the Trojans at the varsity level she has grown into a leader on and off the field, and beginning this fall will continue her scholastic and athletic endeavors at Syracuse University.
Upon completion of an illustrious high school career that included the program's first sectional title and numerous individual accolades, Johnson recalls keeping to herself and going about her business in a much more reserved fashion.
“I have learned a lot about being a leader since I started on varsity,” said Johnson. “As I gained experience and confidence I learned how to lead by example as well as being a vocal leader. I also have a better appreciation of the dedication it takes to get better and play at the next level.”
Johnson has played multiple positions for the Trojans in her six years on the softball diamond, covering ground at short stop when she came up, moving to center field as a freshman and a sophomore after a shoulder injury, then back to short stop to end her career. Regardless of where she was penciled in, Johnson made her presence known.
Prior to the announcement of any awards for 2012, Johnson was a five-time first-team All-County and a two-time AGR selection. A team captain for the past four seasons, Johnson was also a five-time Section 5 All-Tournament team selection, a three-time Birds Eye Player of the Week and a two-time team MVP. She helped Greece Athena to its first-ever sectional championship in 2011 on her way to earning fifth-team all-state honors, and accomplished all of these achievements while maintaining scholar athlete status for six consecutive years.
Playing time at the college level is almost always based on performance, and student-athletes must put in hours of training and practice if they hope to see the field. The level of commitment can often take freshman by surprise as they learn to manage their time while going through life on their own, but Johnson is eager to take the next step.
“It has been a goal of mine to play Division I softball, and I am looking forward to playing against a higher level of competition,” added Johnson, “I am also looking forward to being around my new teammates who love softball as much as I do. It will be great to practice, travel and play with them as we push each other to become better players.”
Johnson's final decision to attend Syracuse was derived from many different factors, including the campus' community atmosphere and the coaches approach to the game. Along with Johnson's leadership qualities her ability to play multiple positions appealed to the program, and will certainly help her earn playing time as she represents her family and school at the next level.