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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

JOURNAL: Before time expires

Photo by Isabel Bonebrake

There is a poem by Robert Frost titled “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” The profound piece of literature teaches one that everything, even the best things, are fleeting. Time runs out and we must appreciate the gold while we still have it in our grasp. This is a truth that Marquette women’s soccer midfielder Rachel Johnson knows all too well.

“I need to put everything into what I’m doing, especially soccer. I think I’d be really disappointed in myself if I didn’t do that every game,” Johnson, a graduate student in Marquette’s physical therapy program, says. “And with my last season approaching, I want to do everything that I can to make it the best for myself and our team.”

Now entering his third season at the helm of the Golden Eagles, head coach Frank Pelaez says he is proud to have watched her grow in the time he has been at Marquette. 

“Her leadership role stems from her maturity. She’s always been very mature as a player on the field, doesn’t show much emotion, just very steady headed,” Pelaez says. “This season requires a lot from her both as a PT student and athlete. I think it will be harder for her because she will be wanting to be with the team at all times and she’s not going to be able to.”

The Omaha, Nebraska native has represented Marquette since her first year in 2017 but has been wanting to be with such a team long before then.

“Coming in as a first-year, I was super excited, and also extremely nervous. I remember how I had looked up to these girls (older teammates) for so long and playing alongside them was something that I’ve always wanted to do,” Johnson says.

 Johnson’s time on was taken when a “ill-timed slide tackle” left her with a torn ACL injury after she recorded a shot on net in Marquette’s victory over Drake in August of 2017.

“I was really only able to play like a few games, then I got hurt and was off until the next summer. I went into my sophomore season not fully confident and not fully at my best physically. It was a hard adjustment to go through a major injury like that,” Johnson explains.

Johnson says she wouldn’t be the person or player she is today if it wasn’t for her injury.

“It was horrible at the time, but looking back on it, it’s something that I’m honestly so grateful for because I never had had such a big injury or had faced that kind of mental and physical defeat. To overcome that defeat and grow and gain that confidence in my ability taught me a lot,” Johnson says. “Stuff happens, it’s just a matter of how you handle it and how you come back from it.”

Johnson’s teammate, and roommate of multiple years, Bonnie Lacey first knew Johnson as a “fierce competitor for the team,” so Johnson’s recovery was treated with just as much determination as she carries onto the field, Lacey shares.

Lacey, who serves as a captain on the team’s defense, is also pursuing the physical therapy path alongside Johnson.

“She is always trying to improve not only herself but others too. I also think of her as someone that’s very caring. She’s been my roommate now for two years and we weren’t super close before that. But just over these past two years living with her, I’ve seen how deeply she does care for those around her and is willing to put other people first,” Lacey says.

The act of putting others first is the foundation for Johnson’s desire to pursue psychical therapy.

“I was very interested in PT prior to my own injury, but I was still unsure if that was the right path for me,” Johnson says. “Then, when I got hurt, I was able to see more directly into what the career is and going through it day in and day out.”

On the receiving end of psychical therapy, Johnson shares how her experience of care inspired her further.

 “Not only physical care, but saw the extent of the emotional and mental impact they (physical therapists) made on me, and now I really want to be that support person for others.”

As the sun begins to set on Johnson’s last collegiate soccer season, Pelaez recognizes Johnson’s goals for the season, but the coach has his own goals in store for the veteran player.

“She told me she wants to win the Big East Conference, which of course I want too, but more so what I want from her is to enjoy it, I want her to come out with a bang and just have the best time she’s ever had in collegiate soccer,” Pelaez says. “I want her to just leave very happy.”

For Johnson, it’s become a goal to enjoy every moment with her team, on and off the field, for every moment is special when the ever-fleeting gold is still present.

“I want to do everything that I can to make it the best season for myself and the team, while also learning to be okay with being done (playing soccer) too,” Johnson says. “I’ve played this game my whole life, so staying connected with the Marquette soccer community will be really big for me as I slowly transition out (of playing).”

This article was written by Ava Mares. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @avamaresMU. 

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