April 12, 2007
Northern Illinois sophomore gymnast Leah Johnson heads to the NCAA South Central Regional this weekend in Tucson, Ariz. where she will take part in the all-around competition. Johnson, who was named to the second team All-MAC squad this season, won the title as the top all-around gymnast in the state when she won the Illinois Classic on March 25. She will compete at the NCAA Regionals for the first time in her career as will her teammate, Natalie Blum.
Why did you decide to come to NIU?
"When I came on my recruiting trip, I met the girls [on the gymnastics team] and they sold me; they were so nice. They are like my family now. They made my [recruiting] trip so much fun that I knew I would have a blast here."
What do you enjoy most about being a student-athlete at NIU?
"I like how all of the student athletes together are like a big family. You can always call them for anything you need. You can call a soccer player or a softball player or anything, and they are always there to help you out. Everyone is like a big family.
"There are a lot of advantages of being a student athlete. The SAASS [Student-Athlete Academic Support Services] program, they're always there to help you, and early registration is another benefit."
What do you think is the toughest part of being an athlete?
"Time-management wise, it is really hard. It is hard getting everything in you need in in one day."
What do you think is your most memorable moment at NIU so far? Why?
"Probably, when we beat U of I [at the state championship meet] this year. That was awesome because I knew most of the girls on their team and they thought they had us beat."
If you could accomplish one thing at NIU, what would it be, and why?
"For us as a team, definitely to make it to regionals as a team and to win a MAC Championship. That would be the best. For me personally, to graduate in four years."
How do you prepare for a big meet, mentally?
"Well, the night before, I sleep in socks. During meets, I always listen to music and that helps me calm down and not gett too overwhelmed at a meet."
What do you listen to?
"I listen to everything. I listen to soothing, soft, like Jack Johnson maybe."
Who has been the biggest inspiration in your athletic career?
"I have to say my teammates. They are always there to help me out, to help me want to compete."
What is your favorite sentence or phrase that your coach uses?
Sam [Morreale, assistant coach] always says, `Keep the lather up.' We have a bunch of crazy sayings. `Don't stress hard work' is another one that we use a lot. Yeah, don't stress hard work.
What is your favorite class? Why?
"I would have to say that COM 309 is my favorite class. It is a public performance class. Our topic right now is talk shows, so we do talk shows and stuff like that."
What is your least favorite class?
"Chemistry. Chemistry is really hard."
What is your favorite activity outside of sports?
"Probably shopping. I go shopping with my friends when I get the chance."
What is your favorite place to eat in DeKalb?
"It is a tie between Chipotle and Burger King, just don't tell my coaches."
If you could have dinner with three people in history, who would it be and why?
"Marilyn Monroe because she is such an icon. Tyra Banks, because I think she is really fun and outgoing and would be fun to talk to, and my mom because she is my favorite person and my best friend."
If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be and why?
" `The Crazy Life of Leah Johnson.' Just about the crazy things that go on in my day. Just stupid things that I do.
If they were going to make a movie about your life, who would play you?
"Wow, I have no idea. Hopefully, Halle Barry could play me, that would be so cool. She is one of my favorite actresses."
The song I can't stop listening to right now is:
"Avril Lavigne, `Keep Holding On.'"
I am the video game champion of:
The TV show I can't stop watching right now:
My favorite all time movie is:
"I have so many, I can't pick one. Let's go with `Now and Then' and `Scary Movie 2'"
The funniest thing that has ever happened to me is:
"Funny things seem to happen to me all the time, but recently, when we were at a meet, and we were warming up on my floor, I was doing a series, and I completely flipped and landed right on my back in front of everyone."
The words I try to live by are:
"No regrets. Always have fun. Stay true to yourself.'"