September athlete spotlight: Julia Johnsen


Photo courtesy of Julia Johnsen

As many high school students know, a teen’s mental health is constantly developing. FHS Junior and varsity Field Hockey player Julia Johnsen weighs in on how participation in school sports can transform a student’s mental state.

Johnsen joined the FHS Field Hockey team at the beginning of her freshman year. Prior to joining the school’s field hockey team, Johnsen was a dedicated softball player. She played varsity softball in her freshman year of high school, later quitting to focus on field hockey. She joined with no prior experience and has continued to play for three years. 

“I joined field hockey because it was an interesting new sport that I had never really heard of before,” Johnsen said. 

Having played softball her entire life, the concept of trying out a sport that was new to her was enticing. She said joining the field hockey team during FHS’ first year of having it available as a sport, which made the process of participating all the more exciting.

However, with playing sports comes pressure to do your best and be valuable to your team. The hefty time commitment and pressure to succeed that come with participation in sports are reasons that some people may be hesitant to join. However, Johnsen refutes these worries.

¨Even though it takes up a lot of time, [playing sports] does have a lot of positive impacts such as, I get a break, I get to meet new friends, I’m also in a better mindset to do homework afterward because I have had that time away from the screen or I’ve had time [away] from strenuous activity,” Johnsen said.

Johnsen says that although sports are a big commitment, they are completely worth it in the end. Even with all the dedication needed to fully participate in school sports, all the benefits and improvements to the general quality of students’ lives make it all pay off.

In addition to sports helping with improving focus in academics, they can also improve a student’s mental state. Johnsen also discloses that her participation in field hockey has positively impacted her mental health. However, sacrifices often need to be made to commit to sports.

Johnsen describes one of the challenges that she has had to overcome because of her choice to play field hockey. 

“Giving up softball was hard for me,” Johnsen said. “I think I just had to get over the fact that doing what was best for me was what made me happy.”

As someone who had played softball for nearly her entire life, giving up all the hours spent on practice and games and choosing to jump into something completely new was difficult. Regardless, as she says, realizing the importance of doing what was best for her got her through this transition and bettered her happiness in the long run.

There are many different kinds of setbacks that could occur when playing sports. Injuries, low self-esteem and challenges such as the pandemic can prevent students from playing. Nevertheless, these should not be perceived as reasons not to join or not resume school sports after a break, but rather as motivation to get better and get back on the field, the track or the pool and enjoy the high school experience to the fullest.

The benefit of joining a school sport can also be seen through its social aspect. As new freshmen come into high school, some are worried about being able to find the right people or about whether or not they will click with their peers. Joining a team is a great way to solve this problem. Johnsen describes how joining field hockey in her freshman year benefited her socially, especially because she started high school during the pandemic. 

“I wouldn’t have had any friends coming from middle school if I hadn’t done field hockey,” Johnsen said. “It did get me to know new people which helped me in the long run.” 

As a freshman, sports made Johnsen feel like she was part of the school rather than an outsider. She also explains how sports allow students to meet all kinds of different people that one would not come across in their usual classes. For instance, being part of a sports team allows students from every grade level to get to know each other better. Because everyone on the team already has one thing in common, it is easier to connect with them than with other students.

“I would say if you’re scared of joining a sport—at least here at Fremont—Fremont is so welcoming,” Johnsen said. “I’ve been able to see that in so many different aspects like being part of ASB, being part of [Class] Cabinet, and even being captain on varsity field hockey. We’re all so welcoming […] We’re all one team.”