When Van-Far’s Leah Johnson was injured in a horrific November 26, 2011 traffic accident, she was thankful to have survived but her sports future was in doubt.
After being sidelined her entire senior basketball season due to her injuries, Johnson’s athletic future became brighter last week when she signed a national letter of intent to play both softball and basketball at Culver-Stockton College.
Johnson was joined by her parents, high school coaches, and college coaches for the signing held at Van-Far on Wednesday, February 8.
“It means a lot (to sign) especially because of my wreck and me not being able to play my senior year,” Johnson said.
“I’m excited especially since I get to play both sports.”
Johnson, who was on target to getting her shot at playing either sport on the collegiate level, was uncertain if any area college would give her a chance after breaking her left arm in three spots and receiving four screws after the car accident.
Fortunately for the Van-Far senior, Culver-Stockton coaches Aron Potter and Melissa Young saw an upside to Leah Johnson as she battled through adversity. Potter, a Vandalia native, is Culver-Stockton’s softball coach and said she expects Johnson to develop into a solid player on the collegiate level.
As a senior for the Lady Indians, Johnson had a .369 batting average with four home runs, 14 RBIs, a .508 on-base percentage, and a .538 slugging percentage. When on the mound, she compiled a 4.85 ERA with five victories and 45 strikeouts.
“She’s a strong kid and is going to be able to bring some pop to the lineup,” Potter said. “…We’ll focus on developing her pitching and developing her bat…She’s also a local kid and I want local kids on our roster.”
Young, Culver-Stockton women’s basketball coach, said Johnson’s intangibles as a person will make her a key addition to a Lady Wildcats’ squad that is fifth in the conference with the most wins the program’s had in 10 years.
“What I liked just by talking to her is her as a person,” Young said. “This is a classy person…Usually people like her, some of their adversity makes them better people…I definitely like her strength (in basketball) on the inside.”
Those attending Johnson’s signing included her parents Lisa and Bobby Johnson, grandparents Bill and Sondra Arndt, Van-Far Athletic Director Holly Jungers, Van-Far head softball coach Wes Rowden, former Van-Far head girls basketball coach Brett Reading, Potter, and Young.