Sometimes a teenager has the urge to get away from it all — to work on their dreams and put all the funky things in the world behind them. Just ask Evangel’s Rachel Johnson.
A prankster on and off the court, the sophomore often steps into her room at home, closes the door and pretends she’s on stage auditioning for “American Idol.” She may belt out a country song on day one of the fictitious competition, a gospel song on day two, and she may go with something R&B from her collection for the finale. Livin’ the dream, baby.
Johnson hasn’t yet received a call up to the big dance, but all the noise she creates in-house does attract some attention from her mother.
“She’ll holler out, ‘Rachel, give it a rest,'” Johnson said chuckling.
During another part of her waking hours, the 15-year-old Johnson spends time annoying coach Meoka Young, big sister Leah, or one of her Lady Eagles teammates. Despite averaging a team-high 14 points, while leading her team to a 23-5 record and a No. 6 state ranking, practicing isn’t high on Johnson’s daily enjoyment list.
“There are a lot of days when Rachel will whine, ‘coach, we don’t need to practice,'” Young responded. “She is just a big baby at times.”
Johnson does enjoy enlisting her teammates to mock Young’s soft speaking style or to act like they don’t understand the point she is making.
“Coach has a hard time yelling and sometimes she slurs her words,” Johnson said. “Sometimes we have to tell her that we just can’t hear her and we ask her to speak slower.”
Young sometimes gets caught up in the game, and says things that confuses her young point guard.
“She may want us in a 2-3, but she’ll try to yell out ‘3-2’ and then she’ll get mad cause we aren’t in what she thinks she said,” Johnson said. “Or she might be saying ‘find one,’ meaning find the No. 1 (player) cause she’s the best player, but we hear ‘box-and-1.’ It can get confusing.”
Young wasn’t buying any of that.
“They’re just using that as an excuse,” Young said. “I don’t have a speech problem, although I may not be loud enough at times.”
Young said Johnson keeps everyone on the team laughing with her shenanigans and calls the speedster “fun but crazy.”
“Rachel is definitely the leader of our team. We don’t go without her,” Young said. “She’s a kid who doesn’t like being down (in the score). If that happens, she’ll do whatever she can to get us back on top.”
Johnson forms a unique combo with Leah, a senior on the Evangel basketball team, and the recipient of Rachel’s sometimes quirky off-court demeanor. But it’s Leah who’s driving Rachel to be all she can be. She provides a guiding light, a shoulder to cry on and sometimes assists little sis with her English homework.
“I really want to make it to state this year and win it for Leah. I want her to experience that,” Johnson said. “It hurts me that she’s a senior and we won’t be playing basketball together after this year, cause we’ve played together since I was in the sixth grade.”
The friendship between the two has grown exponentially through their love of the sport both are finding success in this year.
“The best thing about having a sister is that even when no one else is behind you, she is there for you,” Johnson said. “Even if we’ve been arguing, she’s always on my side.”
That’s unless Johnson gets too unruly with her private “American Idol” auditions.