Karla Johnson off to productive first season

At the collegiate level, freshmen athletes usually find it difficult to acclimate to their new environment and compete at the best of their abilities. However, Karla Johnson, middle blocker for the UM women’s volleyball team, has discovered a way to bypass these problematic issues.

“It’s not too hard to balance volleyball and academics,” said Johnson, a former volleyball and track & field standout at Westfield High School in Houston, TX. “I spend a lot of time in study hall, and the classes also provide tutors.”

In her fist year of play, Johnson is not only second on her team in blocks (52), but she is also currently second in the Big East in kill percentage (.382). To top it all off, she was named Big East Co-Rookie of the Week on September 30. Coach Nicole Welch praises her solid performance as she contributes every night.

“Karla has made a huge impact on the team this year as a freshman,” said Welch. “We count on her offensively more and more each game, and she is capitalizing with very few errors.”

All of Johnson’s success didn’t come easy, as she had to work hard and earn her place on the team.

“I played a lot of club volleyball over the summer to prepare for this season,” said Johnson. “I practiced as much as possible, and I think it has helped me a lot.”

Johnson’s hard work and vast array of skills have been a key part of the volleyball team’s success this year. The Canes’ hold an overall record of 15-1 and 3-1 in Big East Conference play.

She may be a freshman, but Welch actually had huge expectations for her right from the start of the season.

“Coach expected a lot from me right from the beginning,” said Johnson. “I have just tried my best to do the job every game of putting up strong blocks and being up for every set.”

Johnson has obviously succeeded past those expectations and more as she has gained much respect from her coach and her teammates.

“Karla’s teammates respect her as a player, and they enjoy being around her on and off the court,” said Welch, who went on to describe her thoughts on Johnson’s immense potential. “I am excited to see how good she can become. I can’t see a ceiling over this girl’s potential. She has the ability to become a star.”

Johnson’s obvious goal is to help her team win a championship, but she has focused much of her time towards academics as well. As of now, she has chosen to pursue a major in biomedical engineer, a study that requires a lot of time and attention to be successful.

The challenges that face Johnson may be great, but she is already proving that she can accomplish anything she works hard for. Whether it’s academics or volleyball, she has been able to overcome all obstacles to get it done.

It’s unknown how Johnson balances everything out to be able to thrive in volleyball, but whatever it is, it’s working, and it is shining brighter and brighter as every game goes by.

You can reach Kevan Melchiorre at

October 11, 2002


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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