By: Danny Harris -
Senior Courtney Johnson came to Cal after being named one of the top 40 players by Blue Star Scouting Service in 1997, as she led her high school with 22.9 ppg her senior season. She has come a long way since then and now hopes to lead her current Cal team to the NCAA tournament. The guard from Antioch knows that she can't do it alone but is going to go down fighting. Johnson currently leads the Bears with 12 ppg and is inching up on the Cal career chart in steals. With 11 steals already this season, Johnson has 208, good enough for fourth place in Cal history. Recently she sat down with Danny Harris, Cal Media Relations assistant, to tell us more about herself and her time here at Cal.
DH: Senior year, what would be your ideal way to leave Cal?
CJ: I think the best way to leave would be getting a bid to the tournament (NCAA tournament), having a winning season and really just creating a fan base for the future and creating a program where people are going to come and want to watch us play. I think that we may have lacked that the last couple of years.
DH: You were a team captain as a freshman and then as a junior and now as a senior. How has your leadership style changed from when you came in as a freshman until now?
CJ: I think that I have learned to lead more by example. I think that sometimes a lot of people say things and then don't do as they say. So I think that I have learned with my team that if I say it and then do it, then it helps them to follow me. I also think that I am much more vocal and much more willing to say what I feel as opposed to trying to not hurt someone's feelings or be real sensitive. I try to be sensitive, but sometimes you just have to get on people. I think that I have really learned how do those things that will hopefully help the team.
DH: Have the injuries that you have sustained throughout your career at Cal changed your playing style (i.e. knee injuries and more recently a calf muscle tear)?
CJ: I think that it has really slowed me down as far as my quickness. I have noticed that on defense especially I can't really get in the passing lanes like I want to. I am not as quick off the dribble either when I am trying to beat someone, but I think that I just have to adapt and accept what is happening and just keep playing hard. As long as I play hard, everything is going to be all right.
DH: What are some of your career aspirations after basketball?
CJ: I want to be a therapist ideally. I'll probably teach first and then go get my master's in clinical therapy. I don't think that I will pursue basketball after Cal, but if I have a great senior season and the opportunity is there, then I will probably take it.
DH: Has the fact that you are a local player and that your family is always around helped you through the rough times as well as the good times?
CJ: I think that it is just a great support system. I think that it is exciting when people from back home and some of the young kids that I have known since I was young come and see me play, and they are proud of me and supportive of me. I think that is what makes me feel the best is to know that people are proud of what I am doing and that I have accomplished things that people can look up to and can aspire to do. As far as my family, they have been my rock, and always will be.
DH: You came in with long term goals of changing the program, and maybe being that one person to put the Golden Bears over the top. Have those goals changed?
CJ: Definitely not! I don't necessarily think that I have done what I set out to do, and that is why I hope this year we can turn it around. I know that I can't do it individually, it is going to take our team. I think that we have put ourselves in the position since last spring with our new coach (coach Horstmeyer) to help ourselves to win.