In Their Own Words: Estelle Johnson

Sept. 11, 2008

Once again during the 2008 season, members of the Kansas soccer team will share their thoughts in the first person. Today, junior defender Estelle Johnson provides her insights on the team’s early season success and what it was like to grow up in a big family.

During her first two-plus seasons at KU, Johnson has transformed into one of the best defenders in the conference. She is the only Jayhawk to play all 360 minutes for the team this season and has helped hold the opposition to just three goals:

On the biggest difference between the 2008 and 2007 Jayhawks:

“I think definitely our offense has been big. Last year we had some good attacking players, but for whatever reason – especially early in the season – we had trouble finding the back of the net. This year, I think we started off pretty well, scoring five goals in the first two games. So, it was just getting in a rhythm and getting confidence on the offensive end.”

On the benefits of the team’s trip to Brazil this spring:

“It helped a lot to just be together as a team for the extra 10 days. It’s made a big difference. We bonded outside of soccer as well as on the field. We also faced some of the best teams that we’ll ever see, and did pretty well. So I think that really helped us to get experience together.”

On thinking about what this year’s team can accomplish:

“I do think about it, even though I try not to. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We have a really deep team this year, and the way things have been going so far, I think we’re going to do pretty well this season.”

On what she brings to the team:

“Without (graduated senior) Afton (Sauer) here, I think I’ve kind of waited my turn to fill her role by getting the defense organized and stepping up to be an example for my teammates. Not necessarily just during games, but also during practice and off the field. I think I try to lead by example.”

On growing up with seven older siblings and two younger ones:

“It’s hard to compare it to anything else, because that’s all that I’ve known. I think it’s kind of an advantage for me, because we have a huge team this year, and some people struggle not getting one-on-one attention every day. Because I grew up in such a big family, I’m used to being pretty independent.”

On how she got into playing soccer:

“Everybody in my family started off playing soccer, but all of them – except for me and one of my younger sisters strayed away from it pretty quickly. That’s kind of how I got interested in soccer, just playing in the backyard with my older siblings. Everybody in my family is pretty athletic, I’ve had a few brothers and sisters go on to participate in collegiate athletics.”

On being close to her family members:

“When I was young, I definitely had a closer relationship with the ones who were closer in age to me. By the time I got to junior high, most of my older siblings had moved out of the house. I still have a close relationship with them, but I think it’s had to blossom over the years. Now that we’re all getting up there in age (oldest sibling is 31), we’ve found that we’re all pretty cool people, so we hang out with each other willingly.”

On the difficultly of her family being spread across the country:

“We’re kind of all over the place, but we set one day a week where we can three-way (call) each other. We have seven people on the phone at once, so we kind of chime in and make fun of each other. That works for us.”

On how she will measure success this year:

“In my first two years, I feel like we haven’t won as many games as we were capable of and haven’t been recognized as being a good team. I don’t really want to make any specific goals, I just want to show people that we’re here and we’re legit.”