Wednesday February 6, 2013Alaina Johnson: Being a Gator is Perfect Choice
By Jimena Panduro, UF Communications
Talent is a gift not many possess; only hard work and dedication can get you close. But when you possess both, well, you’re almost unstoppable. For junior Alaina Johnson talent and hard work have always gone hand in hand. That is perhaps why she is an eight-time All-American, two-time All-Southeastern Conference First Team and defending SEC uneven bars champion.
It’s easy to see Johnson’s successes and accomplishments, however, underneath all the accolades you will find a simple Texas girl who enjoys being with her friends and her family more than anything else.
Something different for Johnson this year has been assuming a stronger leadership role. This has taken up a whole different meaning this season. After being part of the squad for two years, she now feels more responsibility to step up for her teammates. However, she also feels more confident that she can indeed be a good role model.
“I do feel like I can motivate the team; keep the atmosphere positive” she says.
Johnson is taking some time off from competition to rest her back, but continues to support the team in the practice gym and from the competition sideline. Although she is not among the competing Gators, she is confident that those stepping in will perform well. And they have, as UF has turned in the nation’s top two team totals of 2013 in its last two outings.
After the team failed to qualify for the Super Six during her freshman campaign, Johnson never gave up on herself nor the team. A year later, the Florida Gators made it into the Super Six and came within less than a tenth of a point of being NCAA champions.
Anybody that has ever watched the Florida Gators gymnastics team compete can quickly conclude how powerful, resilient and talented the team is. Johnson, an integral member of that team, is well aware of the qualities of the team she belongs to. Though she knows that there are many other talented teams out there, her ultimate goal is to win the NCAA Championship and she knows that her team can do it.
“My goal and the teams’ is to win NCAA’s. I definitely think we have the talent; we have the ability to do it”, she said.
Johnson may be a stellar gymnast, but there is something else she wants to do upon leaving college.
“I actually plan on doing Cirque du Soleil after graduating. I’ve always wanted to do that. That’s what I want to do after college for a couple of years and I think that it will be a blast”, she says.
With her natural ability to be a graceful performer and flexibility shown by few, Cirque du Soleil does seem to be the perfect match for her. After her stint as a performer however, Johnson does plan to settle down and continue her education.
She is sociology major; however her plans include a different path.
“I want to be a registered nurse whenever I’m done with college,” she explains. “So now I’m getting all my pre-requisite classes out of the way and then when I graduate and I’m done with gymnastics, I’ll complete the nursing program and I will be able to follow my career choice.”
Even though Johnson is not a Florida native, her heart belongs to Gainesville. She absolutely adores the campus and the weather is reminiscent of Texas so that’s a big plus for her too. But it all comes down to being a Gator for her.
“There’s so many things that I love about being a Gator. I probably wouldn’t be happier; actually, I know I wouldn’t be happier anywhere else.”
With her endless positivity, her talent, her dedication, and her passion and love for the Orange and Blue, Alaina Johnson’s name is one that will forever be talked about at the University of Florida.
“These past two years I feel our team has grown closer and we have become more like a family. That is always a positive thing.”
Yes, that is a positive thing, and more importantly, it is that family support that creates the perfect combination to accomplish many things; even such a thing as the ultimate goal; that of becoming NCAA champions.