WAY OF LIFE
“The most common question I ever get is, ‘What would you do if you weren’t a soccer player?’” says Johnston. “And I make up stuff every single time – it is not consistent, because I have never thought about not playing. I love it.”
At thirteen, her parents sat her down and said, “Look, are you sure this is what you want to do?” Johnston says, “I didn’t grow up with a ton of money and club soccer was expensive, so they wanted to be sure that this was what I was focused on. And I was. Soccer was everything.”
It was also her route to free college. “I knew wherever I went, I wasn’t going to have my parents pay for college, so I’d go on visits and just cross off schools if they didn’t give me a full ride.” But then she fell in love with the coaches and program at Santa Clara, an expensive private school. The program didn’t offer full rides until you’d earned it, but Johnston went anyway, hoping she could earn her way to a full ride by the end of the year.
At the end of the season, she sat terrified in the coach’s office, convinced that she was going to have to transfer because she couldn’t afford it. But coach Jerry Smith was not about to lose Julie Johnston and he found the money to keep her at Santa Clara. “When Julie decides she’s going to do it – she’s going to do it,” says Smith. “She won’t get outworked.
ROOKIE LOVE TALE
While in California, Johnston met Zach Ertz, who played football at Stanford University. Zach was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 and was a rookie in the NFL at the same time Julie was getting her first call up with the National Team. “He’s in the exact same boat as me – you’re young, but you want to be so great. And everyone’s so good and you just want to do well and be next to them. It’s been so amazing to have Zach there, to have someone who understands as I’m worrying that I’m going to get cut.”
Zach graduated a year before Johnston and the first thing he got from his new Nike rep was a pair of cleats for Johnston; he custom-colored them in Santa Clara maroon and gold and put his number on her cleats. “I totally loved it,” laughs Johnston, “but my teammates really teased me. They’d be like, ‘Ohhh, Ms. Hertz, how’s it going today?’”
“Everywhere I go, wherever I wind up living, no matter where, I always have a place I go run – and that’s my safe place,” says Johnston.
In Mesa, Arizona, where Julie grew up, her place was ‘The Mountain’ – “It’s complete desert, all cactus and rocks, 120 degrees out, but that’s my comfort spot,” says Johnston, who would run up the mountain for summer training. “Once, I tried to bring my dog, ended up having to carry him up the whole way,” laughs Johnston. At the top, there’s a rock with Julie’s name bleached into it. While she claims she didn’t do it, she still thinks of it as “her rock.” “Any time I come home, The Mountain is the first place I go.”
U.S. National Team: A gifted young defender who has been part of the U.S. Soccer program since 2006 when she attended a U-14 National Identification Camp, Johnston found tremendous success with the U-20 WNT, captaining the team to the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup title. The 2012 U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year earned her first cap with the WNT in 2013.
2015: 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Champion... Named to the 2015 U.S. FIFA Women's World Cup roster, her first World Cup selection... Has scored three goals for the WNT this year, the most by a defender so far... Her three goals all came in consecutive games, from set pieces, and assisted by teammate Lauren Holiday... Has played and started in 14 games so far this year, a career-high in starts... Recorded her first career assist against China in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, connecting with Carli Lloyd for the game-winning goal... Scored her first goal with the WNT during the USA's 2-0 victory over France in the final of the Algarve Cup on March 11, helping the U.S. capture its 10th title while starting in three matches during the tournament ... Did not see any action but was part of the roster that traveled to Europe for the U.S.'s first two matches of the year against France on Feb. 8 and England on Feb. 13... 2014: Made three substitute appearances for the WNT in the latter half of the year, featuring in international friendlies against Mexico and Switzerland as well as getting some time against China PR in the International Tournament de Brasilia … 2013: Earned her first senior cap in a 4-1 win against Scotland on Feb. 9 … Played her first full 90 minutes at the international level against the Netherlands on April 9 … Youth National Teams: The 2012 U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year … A member of the full WNT and U-23 WNT player pools … The captain of the U.S. team that won the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan … She won the bronze ball as the third-best player in the tournament, a rare honor for a defender … Marshaled a U.S. defense that defeated three extremely talented group winners in the knockout rounds of the tournament, downing Korea DPR, Nigeria and Germany in the quarterfinal, semifinal and final, respectively, while allowing just one goal … Started all six games of the U-20 Women’s World Cup and played all but 32 minutes of the tournament … A member of the team that won the 2012 CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship and earned a berth to the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan … Played in three games in the qualifying tournament and scored three goals, including one in the 4-0 semifinal victory over Mexico that sent the USA to Japan … Scored a goal against Switzerland at the La Manga tournament in Spain in 2012 … Finished her U-20 career with 19 caps and four goals … Attended U.S. Under-18 Training Camps in 2010 and 2011 … Attended the U.S. Under-14 National Identification Camp in 2006. First cap: Feb. 9, 2013, vs. Scotland First goal: March 11, 2015, vs. France
Professional/Club – 2014: Signed her first professional contract with the Chicago Red Stars after being selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the NWSL Draft… Started all 21 games she played for the club, tying for third in games played … Was second in starts (21) and minutes played (1,890) only to WNT teammate Lori Chalupny … Named the 2014 NWSL Rookie of the Year … Scored two goals, the first one of the season for Chicago and the last one … Also had two assists … Youth: Played U-9 through U-12 for Arsenal GSC … Played U-13 through U-19 for Sereno Soccer Club … Won the state title nine times with Sereno Soccer Club … Was the captain at Sereno.