Nov. 18, 2013
In her second year at Minnesota, sophomore Jackie Johnson looks to expand her role for the Gophers in 2013-14 after dedicating her rookie season to getting bigger, faster and stronger to endure the rigors of Big Ten Conference play. A native of Eden Prairie, Minn., Johnson established new career highs with 13 points and six rebounds in 29 minutes of work in Minnesota's season-opening victory at Northern Iowa last weekend. Here's a short question/answer session with the 6-foot-2 forward:
How has playing basketball at the University of Minnesota impacted your life on and off the court?
On the court, I've improved in so many aspects of my game because we spend so much time practicing and improving as players and individuals. The more we practice the more thankful I feel for the opportunity to play here. Off the court, I've become a more disciplined and hard-working student-athlete because there is so much going on in my life that the only way to stay balanced is to manage my time well and stay focused.
What are you most excited about for the start of the season?
I'm excited for the chance to have a successful season as a team. We're all on the same page as players in that we all want to make it to the NCAA Tournament and do well.
You've dedicated a lot of time in the weight room to getting stronger. How do you stay dedicated to your workout regimen?
I put a lot of emphasis on getting stronger last year because I knew I had to get bigger in order to compete as a Big Ten post player. I stayed motivated by reminding myself that all of this hard work will give me the opportunity to play. I kept a positive attitude at practice regardless of what I was doing since I knew that I get better and the team gets better when we all play our hardest.
Has anyone on the team been especially helpful through your transition as a player?
No one person in particular, but I'm the kind of person where once I set a goal I want to accomplish it.
What do you see as your role on the team this season and how has it changed since last year?
My role is to be a rebounder, screener and communicator on the court. I want to be a floor finisher whether that's at the end of games or as a defensive stopper. I want to hit open shots when I can, which is different from last year because I have the opportunity to be on the court more and contribute to the game.
You received the Golden Gopher Award last year from the coaching staff, what did that mean to you?
It was a great feeling to be recognized for my work at practice and in the weight room. I appreciate being recognized for the effort that I put into improving myself as a player.
What interests do you have off the court?
I love to spend time with friends and family, and relax when I can. I like to bake and go to church, even though it can be hard to find time for those activities during season.
Name five things that people may not know about you.
1. I want to be a nurse after graduation because I love helping others and I've had experiences where I was visiting family in the hospital. It was a fascinating process to me.
2. I love to travel. After college, I'd like to study abroad and do some volunteer programs similar to Doctors without Borders.
3. I like all types of food: Thai, Mexican, American, seafood; just any type of food.
4. I traveled to the Czech Republic and played with an "Athletes in Action" team before my freshman year. It was a great experience for me as both a player and as a person.
5. If I didn't go into nursing, I would like to pursue an opportunity in mission work or ministry.
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