Many collegiate athletes reach the pinnacle of their sporting careers towards the end of their four-year college experience. With each new season, these athletes show more and more growth both on and off the field until they’ve reached their full athletic potential. For UMass Boston’s Men’s Soccer player Reyn Johnson (Mangilao, Guam), that high point started before he was even a teenager and he isn’t planning on coming down any time soon.
Johnson, a native of Guam, first displayed his athletic prowess at the ripe age of 11 when he helped lead his Little League baseball team to the Guam national title in 2001 and 2002. These victories equated to consecutive trips to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.
“The Little League World Series was an unbelievable experience for me,” said Johnson who pitched and played outfield during the championships. “The people there made the entire group of young athletes feel like we were professionals. We were given bats, really cool uniforms and access to the rec. and gaming rooms. It was pretty awesome.”
This was the first time Johnson stepped foot into the athletic spotlight, but was certainly not the last.
At 14 years old, Johnson was once again representing his country as the newest member of the Guam National Youth Soccer team. He was also invited to play for the Guam National Club Volleyball team, but because of his commitment to playing soccer, had to refuse the offer. The midfielder was on the pitch when Guam’s youth team captured its first win in the programs history, a victory over Mongolia in 2005.
“I can’t even remember the score, but I do know that it was a great match, very close all the way through. Everyone was so excited to be a part of that first win, it was the first time we knew that we had the chance to help build the program into something special,” said Johnson.
Over the next four years, Johnson was able to compete for the national team and travel around the globe. He’s been able to compete in over 10 countries including Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and Chinese Taipei. One of the nice benefits about playing for the team is that all of his travels are completely funded through the GFA (Guam Football Association).
One trip that was not covered took place during Johnson’s senior year of high school when he and several classmates traveled to the United States on a college tour along the East Coast.
“It was on the college tour that I decided I wanted to be in Boston. It was just such an amazing city and after I visited UMass Amherst and learned that there was also a UMass Boston, I knew it was going to be the place for me,” said Johnson. “I knew that playing college soccer was also going to play a big part in my decision, so the pieces just sort of fit together when I found out that UMass Boston had a competitive soccer program.”
Johnson joined the Beacons this fall as one of its 20 new members and quickly established himself as one of the top newcomers. His passion for the game shows in every 50/50 challenge ball, many of which he wins. The midfielder, standing at only 5’10”, has an amazing air attack and leaps far above anyone he’d played against thus far. It’s no surprise the freshman’s style of play is filled with intensity, it’s how he was taught to play.
“Back in Guam it’s all business on the field,” Johnson said. “If you make a mistake, as your teammate, I’m going to let you know about it so that it makes you work harder the next time. This attitude comes right from our head coach, Norio Taskitate. He was all about discipline, which is a good thing. A practice consisted of nothing but hard work and intense drills, there is absolutely no talking and you aren’t even allowed to yawn. That’s just how it is, and I’m trying to bring some of these things over to this team at UMass Boston.”
Through eight games, Johnson leads the Beacons and the Little East Conference with four assists. He recently made the move to the backfield to help solidify the team’s defense and it appears to be working. UMass Boston registered its third shutout of the season with Johnson on the backline when the team picked up a 4-0 victory over Becker College on Wednesday September 30.
The Beacons are halfway through the 2009 season and are already only one win away from matching their 2008 win total. Through eight games last season, the Beacons had netted only eight goals as compared to the 20 they’ve already tallied during the `09 campaign.
Johnson admits that it’s different playing in the U.S. as compared to Guam, but is excited for the future of the UMass Boston Men’s Soccer program.
“There are so many young and talented players on our roster that it’s hard not to be excited for the program’s future. I’m one of 11 freshman on the roster, so just think about the team’s potential two or three years from now. I know that I am planning to stick around all four years, if everyone else is going to stay too, things are going to be a lot of fun around here.”
Since Johnson is no stranger to success, let the fun begin!