JADE JOHNSON: THE NPSL’S IRONMAN
What do a 100-mile commute, two jobs and soccer players all have in common?
They can’t stop Jade Johnson.
Before Dakota Fusion matches and training sessions, 100 miles stand in Johnson’s way, but even through two jobs and the distance, the forward embraces the challenge.
“It’s a lot of sacrifice, a strict schedule, you go to work then you go to practice,” Johnson said. “But it’s only a few months out of the year so we handle it, we make it happen.”
Johnson has not only made it happen in terms of his schedule, but he’s also made it happen on the pitch for the Fusion. So far in the 2017 campaign, Johnson has netted 14 goals in 12 total appearances, good enough for third in the NPSL Golden Boot rankings. Not only has Johnson found the back of the net a great deal in this current season, they have transferred to success for his team, as the Fusion are 7-0-1 when Johnson scores and 0-0-4 when he is on the roster but does not score.
While Johnson is aware of where he stands in the NPSL Golden Boot rankings, his focus remains on how his scoring can help his team win.
“I play with a lot of my old teammates from college, so they brought my attention to (the rankings) and gave me the same old heat for it that they always have,” Johnson said with a laugh. “But at the end of the day the team is seeing results so that’s the best part about it.”
One of those old college teammates, Stephen Harris knows Johnson’s importance to the team.
“On the field, he’s a go-to guy; we know it, our opponents know it and it adds an interesting dynamic to the way we play,” Harris said. “Some teams put so much energy and effort into trying to shut Jade down that it opens up plenty of options for the other guys around him.”
And the Fusion have made good on a number of their scoring chances so far this year, netting 32 goals on the season, good for second in the conference, and according to Dakota Fusion FC Head Coach Jim Robbins, Johnson has been a key to their success.
“Jade had been an integral part of our team and our success in our inaugural year with the Fusion,” Robbins said. “He is very difficult to defend in 1v1 situations and he can beat defenders and score with either foot.”
So far Johnson’s resume seems impressive, two jobs, 14 goals in 12 games and the ability to score with either foot. But Johnson’s story doesn’t end there, and his goals aren’t limited to the soccer pitch. One of Johnson’s “lofty” goals is to one day complete an Ironman Marathon.
“I like finding things and getting things on the calendar,” Johnson said. “Whether it’s marathons, ultra-marathons, Spartan races, all that jazz.”
Johnson got “all that jazz” and then some one day last summer when, after completing a marathon in the morning, Johnson went on to play 20 minutes and score a goal. As longtime teammate Stephen Harris put it, “you don’t do something like that without an insane amount of training…and a little insanity as well.”
For Johnson, however, no matter what else he has on his calendar, soccer will always be circled.
“While I’m young and can still play soccer, I’m going to do it,” Johnson said. “That’s why I’m traveling all that way, and at the end of the day when you see results like we have, it all ends up being worth it.”