Q&A with Alissa Johnson
Q&A with Alissa Johnson
Sport: Women’s Ski Jumping
Hometown: Park City, UT
A1: I’ve always liked school, and I think it’s really important for athletes to be well-rounded, intelligent, and further their education. It really makes for a better athlete in the long run. You occasionally see people who don’t care about school and don’t further their education, and when they leave sports, they virtually have nothing to fall back on, that’s why I think school is very important. As an elite athlete, it’s important to keep your brain [fine] tuned in every aspect.
Q2: How has Westminster helped you achieve some of your educational goals?
A2: Westminster’s been huge for us, it’s really allowed us to continue and further our education while still remaining at the top of our level in sports. They do that by being very accommodating to their athlete student body who’s not around November through March, so they make it very accommodating for spring and summer schedules. It’s allowed us to fully take advantage of doing sports and work on our college degrees at the same time.
Q3: What are you majoring in?
A3: I eventually will go into nursing. I’ve gone as far as I can go while still skiing. I think I have almost 90 credits, I have about 2 ½ years left. Ultimately, I want to be a nurse. The nursing program is challenging, for sure, and I’m not the type of person that can be okay with C’s. I excel at sports, but I also excel at school, so I don’t want to cut myself short and not give 100% because of my schedule…so I’ll just wait until I’m done skiing and just finish it out.
Q4: What are your thoughts on finally getting to compete in the Olympics?
A4: It’s exciting for sure, I mean, for some of us this has been a battle that’s been over a decade as you know. I’ve gotten to see my younger brother go to two Olympic games and I’ve had to sit out and watch—not because of my talent level, but just because women weren’t allowed. So this is kind of the start of a new era for us. For years it didn’t really matter what we did or what we said, we were still excluded for very sexist reasons, and now we can really focus on being the best athletes that we can be, and nothing else. That’s what’s really good, and that’s the way it should be…
Q5: What are you looking forward to most about the Games?
A5: All of it, but obviously competing and representing my country, and finally knowing I’m there and I belong there, and that all of my hard work has paid off. The Olympics are the end goal for a lot of people…it’s watching all your hard work finally become something tangible.
Q6: Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?
A6: It depends. I’m committed to obviously jumping through this year, and anything after that I’m going to play it year by year and see how I feel. Obviously finishing school is definitely in the five to 10-year program. That’s starting a different chapter in life away from sports…and I’ve been doing this since I was five years old.
A7: My dad was a ski director and was a coach for the U.S. Ski Team. We moved out here, and the rest they say is history—I didn’t really have a choice. I tried a bunch of other sports, but I always came back. I mean, it’s probably the most unique sport out there, very bizarre almost.
Q8: Do you have any advice to high school students looking to become World Champions?
A8: Stick with it, you never know what can happen. And honestly, if you don’t have a heart passion for it, it’s a lot of hours. If you don’t love it at the core of your being, just find something else to do. I really believe the best athletes in the world have a sense of motivation that doesn’t come from anyone other than themselves. For years, the only thing that kept us going is our own motivation, it wasn’t money, it wasn’t our coaches, you keep yourself up and then you help motivate the people on your team.
Q9: Do you recommend education?
A9: Yes. Once you get to a certain level, education can be more challenging, but I think there’s more benefits to getting an education while you’re doing sports than not.