Johnson picks UW-Green Bay
By Rich Palzewic
SUAMICO – McKenzie “Mac” Johnson is staying home.
The senior became the third Bay Port girls’ soccer player to verbally commit to a Division I college program when she recently announced she will play for coach Jason Spain at UW-Green Bay beginning in the fall of 2020.
Johnson, a member of state championship teams in both soccer and basketball while at Bay Port, will possibly study business/management.
Johnson’s father, Chad Johnson, who is the current head coach of the Green Bay Glory women’s soccer team, played at UWGB for three seasons and also coached there for another three seasons.
“My dad has been supportive of my decision, but it had no bearing on whether I played at Green Bay,” Johnson said. “He told me I didn’t even have to play college soccer if I didn’t want to. I didn’t feel pressured at all – I focused on me. Green Bay felt right. I’ll be close to home and I can come home whenever I want to – even for dinner or to wash my clothes. I won’t get homesick.”
Johnson joins Bay Port seniors Emma Nagel (Drake) and Alaina Abel (Loyola Chicago) to have verbally committed to play at the Division I level.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Johnson. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get to play against Emma, but I know UWGB and Loyola Chicago play this season, so maybe in the future, I’ll get to play against Alaina.”
Johnson was an all-state selection this past spring and is a two-time Fox River Classic Conference first-teamer.
She ended the 2019 season – one in which the Pirates lost in the WIAA Division 1 state semifinals – with 26 goals and 11 assists.
Johnson has 43 goals in her three-year varsity career.
Indiana State, Concordia-St. Paul, Bemidji, UW-Stevens Point, UW-La Crosse and UW-Eau Claire were also interested in her services.
Johnson, who averaged 10.1 points per game for the Pirates’ state championship basketball squad this past spring, could have played both sports at Stevens Point and Eau Claire.
“I did consider playing both,” she said. “In the end, I knew it would be a lot of work – too much – to play both. I wouldn’t have an offseason.”
Before she travels across town to attend UWGB, Johnson is focused on her senior year and making more memories.
“Hopefully, we can get back to both [state tournaments],” Johnson continued. “They were both exciting. Not many girls get to experience state. Winning with everyone felt great.”
Johnson hasn’t been promised anything when it comes to playing time, but she said she will be given every opportunity to step right in and make an instant impact.
She is even leaving open the possibility of playing for her dad with the Glory someday.
“That would be pretty awesome,” she said. “We’ve both talked about it. He’s my club coach now, but knowing I might possibly have the Glory to continue – if I’d make the team – if I go that route and have him as my coach for another couple of years, would be fun.”
Locally, Johnson joins Green Bay Preble’s Grace Taylor and Ashwaubenon’s Kayla Minor at UWGB.
Taylor, a Glory player from this past season, will suit up for the Phoenix beginning this fall, while Minor will be entering her senior year at Green Bay.