East Allegheny 4-sport sophomore Johnson juggles busy schedule – Tribune-Review

Ask Amani Johnson which sport she’s playing, and the East Allegheny sophomore has to turn to the calendar of her daily planner.

Depends on the day.

Johnson is juggling her schedule to squeeze in basketball workouts between soccer and volleyball games this fall, making her one of the most active high school athletes in Western Pennsylvania.

The 15-year-old plays key positions in each sport for the WPIAL Class AA school: center-midfield in soccer, outside hitter in volleyball, point guard in basketball and shortstop in softball.

“I wouldn’t say I’m special. It’s just what I like to do,� said Johnson, who carries a 4.0 GPA. “I have an opportunity since we’re in a small school. It’s fun for me. It’s the way my life has always been, but I am proud of myself for being able to do it.�

Johnson isn’t just playing multiple sports. She’s playing a starring role. She has scored 12 goals in her past three soccer games, tying a school record with six goals against Jeannette.

The 5-foot-5 dynamo also recently pulled double duty against West Mifflin, following a Sept. 10 soccer match by playing a five-set volleyball match that night.

“It’s pretty tiring, but it’s fun,� Johnson said. “I try to drink a lot of water and Gatorade. I try to eat right, but I’m only 15, so …�

She is human, after all.

Johnson starts her day early, rising at 5:30 a.m. and eating a bowl of Raisin Bran Crunch. On Sept. 10, for example, she went to the YMCA to run, lift weights and practice shooting basketball before school. After school, she had the soccer and volleyball matches, followed by math homework.

“That was a long day,� she said.

It was hardly an anomaly. In the past two weeks, Johnson had four soccer games, three volleyball matches and attended a basketball showcase Saturday in Hershey.

“It’s going to catch up with her, sooner or later,� East Allegheny girls soccer coach Stephen Shurgot said. “It’s no issue with us at all. She gives us our time and gives volleyball what she can after us.

“She’s just a talented athlete who can play any position and does her best when she’s out there. We don’t mind sharing. She wants to help out other sports in the school. With her physical ability, she can do that. She’s come from volleyball games to softball games, and we didn’t see any decline in her performance. She’s a very well-conditioned athlete.�

One who not only excels at every sport — basketball is her best, as she led East Allegheny in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals as a freshman — but believes playing multiple sports makes her a better all-around athlete.

“I think all the sports help me with each other, to stay in shape and work different muscles,� Johnson said. “They’re all very similar, so they relate to each other. People tell me a lot, ‘You’re going to wear yourself out. I can’t believe you do all of that.’ But I’ve been pretty healthy so far.�

After the six-goal match against Jeannette last week for East Allegheny’s first victory, Johnson had hat tricks against Keystone Oaks and Obama Academy and played volleyball Thursday against South Allegheny.

“I overheard somebody after the first game say, ‘Amani is not the person you want serving against you at that stage of the game.’ She’s good at it,� South Allegheny volleyball coach Jen Riley said.

“That’s a lot of responsibility to do something like that. Some of the bigger schools are able to tell their players, ‘You’re not able to play other sports,’ but that’s not a luxury for smaller schools.

“I’m glad to hear she can do all of that. From an athletic standpoint, she’s fun to watch and coach against. That girl is just a great athlete and anyone who knows sports can appreciate watching a player like her.�

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.


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