Captain on and off the diamond

Junior outfielder Kylie Johnson does a lot for the Illinois softball team in terms of offensive production. She was named one of the team’s three captains and earned preseason All-Big Ten honors. Coming off a season that landed her a spot on the All-Big Ten second team, Johnson and head coach Terri Sullivan know the junior is a key contributor on the diamond. But it is off the field where Johnson holds herself to even higher standards.

“I take the same attitude that I have on the field into the classroom,” Johnson said. “I’ve always been competitive and kind of hard on myself when it comes to academics.”

In 2012, Johnson graduated from Kankakee High School in Kankakee, Illinois, ranking second in her class of 383 students. As a kinesiology major, Johnson was named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar in 2014 — an award given to those who have earned a grade-point average of 3.7 or higher for the previous school year. She also earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, along with her second NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete achievement.  

Although she is studying to work in physical education, Johnson’s main goal is to stay involved in college sports and work as a graduated assistant. If that does not pan out, she plans to coach at whatever competitive level is presented.

“Kylie’s a great leader on and off the field,” Sullivan said. “At the field, there are not many that work harder than her. Away from the field, she does things right, too. You couldn’t ask for a better athlete and person to be a part of our team.”

“Any time she fails, she comes back stronger than before,” Sullivan said. “That’s part of being as successful of an athlete as she is.”

Johnson’s teammates look to their captain as an example of how to approach the game on the field and how to balance the important aspects of being a student-athlete off the field.

“She’s a huge role player on our team,” junior second baseman Allie Bauch said. “She gets it done every time, whether the pressure is on or not. She’ll do anything for the team. It’s great to have a player like that on our team.”

Lauren can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @MrozLauren.