Nevada Johnson’s summer is just getting started and she already has earned a prestigious Indigenous award and a national team tryout.
The 18-year-old fastpitch standout was among six athletes recently named a Fraser region recipient of the 2021 Premier’s Awards for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport, reflecting Johnson’s Northwest Territory Métis Nation heritage. The honour also makes her eligible for the Premier’s Provincial Award that will be announced later this year.
The Delta Secondary graduate had an all-star leading role in the UBC Okanagan (UBCO) Heat capturing the Canadian collegiate championship last fall, capping an outstanding freshman season.
“I didn’t even know I was Métis until I was in high school because it was something my grandma never really talked about,” said Johnson. “So I got my status and my parents encouraged me to look at all the Indigenous scholarship opportunities that were out there. I was actually introduced to the Premier’s Awards by some of my UBCO teammates. My coaches (Joni Frei and Michelle Webster) are also Indigenous and they really encouraged me to celebrate the culture. All were huge factors in helping me get this (award nomination process) rolling.”
Johnson also happens to be on the radar for Canada’s senior national team.
The promising pitcher is fresh off a trip to Brampton, ON where she was among 32 athletes invited to the five-day national team selection camp. The all-expenses paid experience was earned thanks to her strong showing at a regional ID camp. Although she wasn’t named to the final roster, she returned home with new found confidence in her game, proving she belonged among the best players in the country.
“I feel so lucky and fortune to have that experience. It was fantastic,” she reflected. “By the time it was finished I think I had conversations and developed relationships with every player at the camp. Coaches (Kaleigh) Rafter and (Jenn) Salling did such a good job with making it not feel intimidating at all for someone like me with no senior or junior national team experience.
“It not only reassured my ability as a player but also my passion for the game and how much I love it. I’m willing to keep going and pushing this as far as I can and I am not going to stop until physically I can’t do it anymore.”
Johnson played for the Pacific Elite tournament team that won silver in the Gold Futures Division at the recent Canada Cup International Softball Championship at Softball City. She now re-unites with her 2003A Surrey Storm teammates for the stretch run of her youth career that will conclude at the U19 Nationals later this month in New Brunswick.
Her father, Gord Johnson, has been a major influence, coaching her as she came through the South Delta Invaders rep “B” program before taking her game to the rep “A” level in her Grade 11 year.
“I loved playing with my friends but I was just ready for the next step,” she added. “(Going to the Storm) was the best thing I could have done and, honestly, I should have gone up earlier. It’s just such a nice group of people and we have gelled so well together.”
The 2003 Storm will be among the teams to beat at the U19A provincial championships, slated for July 15-17 at Softball City. Two of its biggest rivals are the 2003 and 2004 Delta Heat.