Nicholas Johnson had run track his freshman and sophomore year and had really grown to love the sport. When he first learned that Blackburn College didn’t have a track team, he was disappointed. The closest thing Blackburn College had was cross-country; a sport where athletes run long distances over natural terrain instead of the polyurethane tracks most people are familiar with.
Johnson thought that the years spent running on his track team had prepared him for the challenges he would face in cross-country. They didn’t, but instead of moping, Johnson began to train hard to master this new sport. He said, “Cross-country training consists of hill endurance, mile endurance, and weight lifting twice a week and sprint work… during our first meets we had to run 6k (3.7 miles). To put that into perspective that’s from Blackburn to the Carlinville Walmart and back.” This training has made a noticeable improvement in Johnson’s stamina. When he started, he would get tired at 1.5 miles in. Now, Johnson can run 3.5 miles at a steady pace: “Our coach has rigorous training sessions and it’s paying off.”
It is not just at cross-country meets that Johnson exemplifies what it means to be a student-athlete. Johnson can also be found in the classroom or training for his next cross-country meet. But there is another place students may have seen Johnson: Ding.
When Johnson isn’t eating in the cafeteria, he’s helping to set up for dinner or helping to clean up from the rush of students that swarms through on a daily basis. Why is it so special that this student-athlete puts in time in Ding? Because Johnson works in the library. “My schedule isn’t busy enough to where I can’t help out fellow students. I was just bored one day and I asked [Jordan] if I could help out. He said yeah and it just started from there. Whenever I have free time now, I just come to help out. I’ve made great relationships just by chilling with the people at Ding.”
In reality, Johnson is very busy; he’s a full time student in good standing, member of the cross-country team and active member of the Black Student Union, Fellowship of Christian athletes, sustainability club and Ignite, and he still finds the time to help out the people working the all too often thankless keystone job on campus. Whether on the field or off, Nick Johnson is a superstar who exemplifies what it means to be a student-athlete.