Junior soccer player fights for team on the field, in personal life

Junior Kelsey Johnson has been playing soccer since childhood and knocking down obstacles in the process.

Johnson, a physical education major, has done a lot of training during the tough spring season, which she said has been calmer than past years.

Having only played five spring games so far this spring, her and the UCA team are hungry to step out on the field.

“The women’s soccer team has had a few games this season but not too many,” Johnson said.

Johnson got into soccer when she was young and her father asked if she would like to try it out.

“I’ve been doing it since I was about four,” Johnson said. “It’s been a long time; maybe too long,” she laughed.

Her father and mother both encouraged her to play soccer, but she said her dad was her main influence in giving her the most support, as he was also her coach for a long time.

Johnson’s father is an assistant principal and her mother is a counselor in her home state of Texas and she said they could be part of why she wants to be an elementary school P.E. teacher and maybe a coach on the side.

Soccer has always been one of Johnson’s favorite things to do and recently the game she loves became a side note to her health.

In January, Johnson was in a minor car crash in Conway that caused headaches that began to worsen.

After seeing a doctor at a hospital for fear of a concussion, a benign tumor in the left frontal lobe of her brain was found.

Although the tumor is benign, surgery is required to remove the tumor to prevent further complications. Johnson has credited her family, boyfriend, teammates and her coaches for her strength to keep playing the game she loves and not to worry about the tumor.

Johnson does not let the tumor keep her from playing and fighting for the team here at UCA. She even likes to show people the X-ray picture she has of it.

“The team is like my family; like a literal second family,”Johnson said. “Everyone always has each other’s back.”

In February her boyfriend and former UCA men’s soccer player Amir Pasic started a Go Fund Me page in the hopes of raising the money needed for Johnson’s surgery.

Setting the goal of 10 thousand dollars and the page has already had numerous donations and has reached 4,000 dollars thus far.

“Her and her family are extremely grateful for all of the support shown to her over the past few months,” Pasic said. “It really does go to show how close the sports community is here in Conway and elsewhere.”

Johnson said she wishes she could thank all who have donated to her and her family in person.

“The support for me has been incredible,” Johnson said. “I could’ve never imagined people would want to help me out and I’m extremely thankful.”

Her surgery has been scheduled for May 11 in her home city of Houston, Texas. Doctors expect to have Johnson fully healthy in time for her to play her senior season in the fall.

This article originally appeared in the April 6, 2016 print edition of The Echo.

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