The junior center back and captain played a large role in the Gators capturing the Friends’ Schools League title, contributing both on defense and offense, providing clutch scoring, standout defense and leadership. She scored a goal in Shipley’s 2-1 win in the FSL championship game, and in the first round of the PAISAA state tournament, her penalty kick provided the winning margin.
Q: What do you think has been the highlight of your Shipley soccer career to date?
A: This season as a whole has been the highlight of my Shipley soccer career. Being named captain this year as a junior was a huge honor and I have been so happy to help our talented underclassmen adjust to high school soccer. Seeing Shipley win the Friends’ Schools League and enter the state tournament with a decent ranking has made me so proud of our team and how we have grown together.
Q: Tell us a little about your goal against Westtown in the FSL finals that tied the score. Can you describe how the play unfolded, your role in the play, and your sharpest memory of the play?
A: Every free kick or corner I always go up and try to be the first to the ball. A few times this season, I have actually been able to feel the goal and see it in the back of the net before it happens. At Westtown, Hannah Brainsky, a freshman who really carries our team through the midfield, took the free kick – she always knows exactly where to place the ball and it just hit my foot perfectly and I was quick enough with my one-time that I caught the goalie off-guard. Thanks to Hannah, it was a perfect set piece and a great equalizer.
Q: During Shipley’s FSL semifinal, your high pressure on the keeper allowed Eliza Green to sneak the ball past the goaltender. Can you describe this play, and how it developed leading to the goal scored?
A: Eliza and I are great friends on and off the field and we always seem to know what the other is thinking. She took a free kick from far out – she had a great, strong shot towards the six, and I just took off after it, staring down the keeper. I guess the keeper just took her eye off the ball to worry about me, and the ball went in. It was a great goal by Eliza, with a little aggressive help from me.
Q: What attribute(s) do you feel you have that make you best suited to center back? What aspect of your game are you currently working on the most?
A: Center back is a new position for me this year. My strengths as a defender revolve around how vocal I am. I see the field from the back and can lead my team. I am very strong at distributing the ball and helping my team transition into the midfield. I tend to be quite aggressive, which can be a great tool as a center defender. I have also played a key role scoring on set pieces. I am really working on my foot strength and my ability to move the ball forward and make some dangerous plays.
Q: How do you see your leadership role as a center back and junior captain?
A: I feel that being able to adapt to change and accept a new position on the field when needed is a sign of a good leader. My coaches count on me to help my team remain focused and center back is the best spot for a big talker like myself. It has been wonderful to work with our six freshman starters – we have accomplished so much for such a young team. Most of our opponents field a majority of upperclassmen. We have only five junior/senior varsity players, but we hold our own!
Q: Tell us a little about your club soccer career. What has been the highlight of your club soccer career?
A: I am co-captain and center midfield for FCUSA Philadelphia 99 Black. I have been with this team for over four years now and have loved all the great experiences we have shared together on this team. The highlight from club was experiencing international play, both in Italy three years ago and last summer at the Gothia Cup in Sweden, where I scored my first international goal. I look forward to a great winter and spring tournament season this year with a great group of teammates.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: Our team loves music, so I haul a big speaker on wheels to hype the team up during warm ups. We have a great tradition of wearing matching hair ribbons and we pass around a Sharpie to write on our wrists the name or initials of the person who we play for. This usually happens during our locker room talk – creating super- focus where the whole team joins together as one. Sometimes we listen to an inspirational video or someone talks about how they visualize the next 90 minutes. We always have a little huddle with the starting 11 right before the tap, it’s the time where everyone gets a chance to share how they will contribute.
Q: You wear uniform jersey No. 10 for Shipley. Why did you pick this number?
A: I have worn No. 10 on most of my teams since middle school. When I was young, my dad taught me the position numbers on the field and explained that players used to be assigned the number that corresponded to their position. I have always thought of myself as a strong 10-position player, so the number suits me.
Q: Who is your favorite soccer player and why? Is there a soccer player whose game you try to emulate?
A: John Terry, the center defender and captain for Chelsea, has been one of my favorite players. Since this year I am just starting at center back, I have been watching his leadership. He is a great defender, but also the most dangerous scorer on set pieces – something that I aspire to. Of course, Messi also remains an inspiration for his hard work. He is little, like me, but is tireless on the field. We don’t play the same position, but I like to think that I play with the same heart.
Q: Who have been your biggest soccer mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each one?
A: Honestly, I have the “dream team” of mentors. Sean Costello, the first coach I had at FCUSA, introduced me to Shipley and gave me the opportunity to become a part of such a great school. He pushes me to be a better player and never fails to keep me motivated to improve my game. Mike Welsh coached me when I was young during the summers at UK Elite, and is currently my FCUSA coach. He is probably the best technical coach I have ever had. He has given me a soccer “IQ” and trusts me as a leader on his team. Finally, Coach Dakota Carroll is my inspiration. She and I have so much in common – she came to Shipley from a public school in high school and worked so hard during her high school and college career. Her support and guidance mean the world to me. She always reminds me to love the game and play with heart. I am so lucky to have all three of these coaches in my life.
Q: You mentioned that you would like to play soccer for a Division I college. What do you think you might like to major in? Is there a career path that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: My hope is to major in biology or marine science and someday have the opportunity to work with marine life.
Q: Do you participate in any other sports or extracurricular activities at Shipley? What sparked your interest in each of these activities?
A: This year, I am playing basketball for Shipley and look forward to a great season. As a freshman and sophomore, I acted in the fall play and I currently help train lower-school soccer players at Shipley. I am a member of a club called “Humans of Shipley” and like being active in Shipley’s community life. I love being a leader and mentor for the younger students.
Fun facts – Cami Johnson
Favorite book: A Dog’s Purpose.
Favorite TV show: Grey’s Anatomy.
Favorite movie: Star Wars.
Favorite athlete: Lionel Messi.
Favorite place to visit: St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Favorite pre-game meal: “Anything from Wawa!”
Favorite color: Blue.
Person I most admire: “My dad, because he is so successful, always supports me, and always makes me laugh.”
Birth date: March 18, 2000 in Ridley Township.
Family members: parents Gary and Jennifer, sister Carlin, dog Van Gogh.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)