Goaltender Ashleigh Johnson Will Make History This Summer as the First Black Woman to Play Water Polo for the U.S. Olympic Team.
Goaltender and water polo player Ashleigh Johnson is poised to make history at the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, and it all started with a swim lesson. Johnson’s mother, Donna Johnson, who hails from Jamaica, enrolled her five children in swimming lessons to ensure that they would be safe around the pool at their family home.
According to the Associated Press,
Swim lessons turned into meets when their instructor told Donna Johnson her children were so good she had nothing left to teach them. When Ashleigh and her siblings continued to show athletic potential as they got older, Donna Johnson, a single mother and nurse from Jamaica, delivered a simple message to them.
“For everything that they do, it’s not about pressure, it’s about maximizing your potential,” she said.
Now her oldest daughter is about to make history this summer. Ashleigh, a goaltender blessed with jaw-dropping athleticism, is a lock for Rio de Janeiro, putting her on track to become the first black woman to play water polo for the U.S. Olympic team.
Johnson, who is a member of the water polo team at Princeton University, got her start as a star player at Ransom Everglades High School in Florida. The 21-year-old athlete didn’t even think that she would ever make it to the Olympics.
“I didn’t really know that the Olympics was a possibility for me,” Johnson said. “I thought it was just like coming and training like I had been doing for years, but just living out here, and he made me realize that the Olympics was a great opportunity and a possibility for me.”
Johnson’s younger sister, Chelsea, who also plays water polo at Princeton is rooting for her older sister.