Alaina Johnson signed a national letter of intent to play volleyball and throw shot put and discus next fall at Barton College.
“It’s really cool, and it’s kind of like fulfilling a dream,” Johnson said. “I made it a goal to play in college when I was a freshman, and I always thought about Barton.
“It’s like a dream come true.”
Johnson, who plays travel volleyball for the Carolina Shockwave, had an interesting path to making her dream become a reality.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, student-athletes in college were given an extra year of eligibility.
“I was talking to coaches, and they were like ‘no, we’re full,’ so I hadn’t really heard a lot,” Johnson said.
One day, she decided to email Barton head volleyball coach Jeff Lennox. A few days later, she got an email back from Lennox saying he was interested.
“We went from there. I went on a couple of visits, went to a few games, and talked with him, and everything clicked.”
Johnson cranked out 434 kills, served 152 aces, and recorded 163 blocks during her three-year varsity career with the Bulldogs. She helped lead the Bulldogs 47-16 record, three playoff appearances and three conference titles.
Princeton head volleyball coach Paige Renfrow said Johnson would bring numerous intangibles — hustle, leadership and work ethic — to the court for Barton.
“I’m so proud of her. She wants to perfect everything that she does, and she always is doing it with a smile,” Renfrow said. “She’s naturally athletic, and she uses that along with work ethic to be the best she can be.
“She just is mentally motivated to be her best at volleyball, track, everything.”
Johnson has also accomplished numerous things on the track during her time at Princeton.
She qualified for states during indoor track as a sophomore. As a junior, she won the 1A east regional and placed ninth in the state in shot put.
“I did track my sophomore year, and I had always run the mile,” Johnson said. “I went on there one day, and I threw shot put for fun, and my coaches said it good, so I kept throwing for it,” Johnson said. “I just got in touch with the coach, and everything fell into place with that too.”
Johnson intends to major in exercise science and get a master’s degree after earning her bachelor’s degree.
“I want to continue my education by maybe getting a master’s degree or going into physical therapy.”