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Teen athlete: Hannah Johnson

Hanna Johnson, No. 35, in a Feb. 5 home game against Bemidji. (Photos courtesy of William Garnett)

Hannah Johnson, a senior at East High School, is not your average teen athlete. She has recently achieved a huge milestone in her basketball career, 1,000 points. Johnson reached the marker in a home game on Jan. 17.

"When it happened it was really overwhelming," Johnson said. "It was on a free throw, so it was a lot of pressure and there were a lot of fans there. I did get a little emotional, seeing the support from everybody there, but they were tears of happiness."

Johnson started her career with humble beginnings in the Salvation Army's Rookie Basketball program, but soon progressed to more intense traveling teams.

"In the past two summers I've played with the Minnesota Stars; they're based out of Eagan," Johnson said. "That was probably the coolest part of my basketball career because it was a little bit out of my comfort zone, I went in not knowing anybody and I made such good friends with all those girls."

Johnson's favorite part of basketball is the relationships formed.

"The bond that you create is something that lasts a lifetime," Johnson said. "The memories that we make are something I'll always remember. For the five seniors we have this year, we'll always have each others backs."

Some of Johnson's closest friends are her teammates. She plays on the East team with Liz Libbon, a senior at East with Johnson.

"Hannah and I have known each other since we were two or three years old and have built up so many fun memories together," Libbon said. "My favorite part about playing with Hannah is that she's a team player. She always keeps a positive attitude. She's a really good player but she's humble about it at the same time."

Rachel Weyenberg, another senior at East, has played with Johnson since they both were second graders playing with the Salvation Army. The two are inseparable and recently won the "Best Friends" class award at East for the Red & Grey spirit week.

"I love playing with Hannah, she has been such a great teammate to play with," Weyenberg said. "She works hard everyday and she pushes everyone to do their best. It wasn't a surprise to me when Hannah scored her 1,000 points; she is a great scorer in the post. I was super-proud of her and I know everyone on our team was, too."

Basketball isn't all fun and games. Johnson went through periods of wanting to quit and credits Paul Libbon, Liz's father, with keeping her in the game.

"I was like, 'I'm not very good at this, I enjoy it but it's not the best.' (Paul Libbon) really pushed me to keep going and he made me into the player that I am today," Johnson said.

Johnson is moving on to play Division III basketball at Bethel University in Arden Hill after high school.

"I'm really excited," Johnson said. "I really like the coach and I've gotten to know the girls really well. I feel like it will be a lot of fun and will push me harder than I've been pushed before."