Scan the roster of pretty much any female sports team at Immaculata Regional High School and chances are awfully good the name Johnson will appear—and in many cases more than once.
All four of Kelowna’s Johnson sisters are multi-sport athletes at Immaculata, including being teammates with the Mustangs’ senior girls soccer team.
Olivia, 18, Hannah, 16, Emma, 15, and Kate, 13, will be wearing Mustangs’ colours this week at the B.C. A girls’ soccer championship in Rossland.
To say varsity sports keeps the Johnson girls busy would be an understatement, as all four also excel on school teams in volleyball, basketball and cross country.
When he met the oldest of the four sisters five years ago, Immaculata athletic director Blaine Melnyk sensed there was something special about the Johnsons—and not just athletically.
“I remember when Olivia first came to our school, she asked me if she could play all the sports, she wanted to be involved in everything she possibly could,” said Melnyk. “All four of them have turned out to be the same that way. And it’s not just sports, it’s volunteering, student council, events in the community…and top of it they’re great students. They have the full package and are super positive kids to have at our school.”
That the Johnson girls are high achievers both in sports and academics doesn’t come as a surprise to those who know the Johnson family best.
Their dad, Rob Johnson, is a former football player at UBC and the current Athletic Director at UBC Okanagan, while their mom, Elaine, is a former national-calibre gymnast.
Dino Gini, the head coach of the gold-medal winning Immaculata girls’ basketball team, said within the Johnson family, the apples don’t fall too far from the tree.
“The foundation their parents have given them is huge, it’s a such an important part of who they are,” said Gini, who coached Olivia, Hannah and Emma on the basketball team. “(Rob and Elaine) have coached them, supported them since they were young and have kept them active in sports. All the girls, their compete level is tops and they’re leaders…and they’re quality people on top of that.”
As valuable members of the senior girls’ soccer team, Mustangs’ head coach Paul Freire said the Johnson girls are a pleasure to coach.
“They’re great girls and strong competitors,” Freire said. “They use their speed and smarts, but each one brings something a little different. They’re well-rounded players.”
As the oldest of the four Johnson siblings, Olivia has set a relatively high standard for her sisters to follow.
She was named MVP at the B.C. A girls basketball championship this March in Prince George, then in April picked up the high school female athlete of the year honour at Kelowna’s Civic Awards.
For Olivia, sports and family have been vital parts of her life for as long as she can remember.
“We all started (athletics) when we were about four, Kate even earlier than that, so we really haven’t known anything else,” said Olivia, who will join the UBCO women’s basketball program this fall. “You could definitely say we have a passion for sports. It’s really a lot of fun to play on teams together, too, it brings us closer together. We’re all competitive too, so we push each other to be better.”
From Rob and Elaine Johnson’s perspective, watching their four daughters compete at a high level in sports has been both an enjoyable satisfying experience—even if balancing their hectic schedules isn’t always easy.
“We try and get them to everything they want to be involved in and we really enjoy being there to watch and support them,” Rob Johnson said. “We like to have them active, and typically active kids are high-achieving kids. If there’s one thing people comment on, it’s their energy and effort they put forth, and they also understand competition.
“It can be a little crazy sometimes,” added Johnson, “but my wife is a master scheduler and very organized. Out of necessity, the girls have also learned how to organize themselves pretty well.”
As for one special message from their dad that has stood out over the years, Olivia
points to the importance of family.
“All four of us are pretty protective of each other,” Olivia said. “My dad would always say Johnsons look after Johnsons, so we always look out for each other…in the hallways, on the teams wherever we are. We’re pretty close in that way.”
The four Johnson sisters will on the pitch together this week in Rossland as the Mustangs compete for gold at the B.C. School Sports A girls soccer championship.