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Student Athlete Spotlight: Graduate student Meghan Johnson reflects on the challenges of her time as an athlete, academics, and her role as a team captain.

Marguerite “Meghan” Johnson can be described as many things: she’s a leader, an aunt, an activist, and a warrior, just to name a few. The 23-year-old clinical counseling student and softball athlete is one of the many people who realized their potential in the age of COVID.

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit the world in 2020, Johnson had an incredibly tough journey athletically. During her junior year, Johnson was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation, a condition where the brain is too big for the skull. She was taken off the field and into the operating room, and she cheered on her teammates from the sidelines in the 2019 season.

When COVID rolled around during her senior year, Johnson realized that not only did she have an extra year of playtime, but she had a second due to her brain surgery. It was at this time, in the midst of applying for graduate programs and full-time athletic training jobs, that Johnson decided to apply to Eastern’s clinical counseling graduate program.

Being a part of this program, Johnson could not only get back to playing the sport she loves, but she could also get the mental health education that she had wanted to pursue. “I switched up all my plans,” Johnson said with a chuckle, “honestly, this aligns more with what I foresee my career path doing anyway… I was trying to make all these other graduate schools work for what I wanted, and I don’t have to make this one work, it just works.” Johnson, who has been an athlete since she was in elementary school, says that she was always fascinated by injury psychology and the mental health aspect of athletics.

While her education in athletic training did cover mental health, she wants to be educated and aware of when athletes are having mental health problems. “I still want to be an athletic trainer, but I just thought that becoming a counselor would give me the skills to have connections to refer athletes that are having mental health issues.” Johnson, an auxiliary writer for the Waltonian, has previously written about mental health and suicide within the athletics community, specifically with college athletes.

On the field, Johnson has taken her athletic and counseling training into her role as a team captain. “My favorite part about being a captain is being someone that other people feel like they can rely on,” she giggled. One could relate Johnson’s captaincy style as one of a loving older sister: “I’ve positioned myself in a way that the underclassmen can come to me and talk to me about anything.” Johnson is the type of leader that would drop anything to help her teammates, including listening to her teammates on the phone in the middle of the night. She says that these connections and openness have created a healthy and loving team that has become like a family.

Few people have the passion and drive to help others as Meghan Johnson does. The pitcher and outfielder for the Eagles is a great example of someone who overcame adversity with a smile on her face, and she keeps herself happy through the happiness of others (Romans 12:15).

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