Athlete Spotlight: Mount Anthony's Gavin Johnson
Mount Anthony junior Gavin Johnson is a three-sport athlete — playing football, basketball and running track. But he's even (BREAKING NEWS) picking up a fourth sport — baseball — in the spring as well.
This week, the Banner talked to Gavin about his future plans, his grandfather as a role model and why a strong social media presence is crucial for athletes today.
Banner Sports: Mount Anthony football is 2-2 this season so far, but individually you have seven receiving touchdowns, closing in on a school record. [Ed. note: the record is eight, according to coach Chad Gordon.] How has this season gone as a team but also individually?
Gavin Johnson: As a team, most of us have been playing together since we were kids. we got a lot of chemistry going on. Individually, the offseason work I put in, a couple of D1 camps (West Point, learned a lot about route running, helps me create separation and more yardage).
Sports: MAU quarterback Caleb Hay is in his second year as the starting quarterback. What is the relationship between the two of you?
Johnson: Caleb and I go back to little league baseball, always throwing the ball together. He's always been a good friend to me, when we got to high school. We gelled together on the field. Everything he threw up, I'd get it, an ongoing chemistry.
Sports: You've had some great catches this season, including a couple where you've stiff-armed defenders, leaving them in your wake. How do you handle being on the main focuses of defenses?
Johnson: Caleb will throw it and lead me in a good direction, that comes down to the chemistry. Also, me thinking on the fly, do a quick spin move, but my go-to is the stiff arm.
Sports: You get double-teamed most of the game against Fair Haven, how do you get through that?
Johnson: We all have our roles on the team and if I'm getting doubled, someone else will step up and right now that's Jack Ware. If he's off, I'm on. We fill in for each other. Mentally, I tell myself I can beat the double or triple coverage, I anticipate what I have to do.
Sports: You play three sports now. In basketball, you're the focal point for the Patriots.
Johnson: When I was really young, since I can remember, I had a basketball in my left hand and a baseball in my right hand. I was blessed to play from fifth grade to eighth grade at Sacred Heart, that threw me into the real world of basketball and helped me progress. I've gone to camps with [former SVC men's basketball coach] Dan Engelstad, he helped me out a lot. Then my grandfather [Leon Johnson], always taking me up to the middle school every Sunday, always working out for hours. Then at the high school with Coach [Marcus] Hass, being a big man, teaching me the post moves and everything my freshman year. I've developed an all-around game from everyone who has helped me.
Sports: You play in a lot of the AAU teams around the area, and you know guys like Joe Girard III and Andre Jackson [top players in Section II]. What is it like playing with those guys?
Johnson: Going against them, it's almost breathtaking to see some of the stuff they do. I thought I flew, until I saw Andre go up. And Joe, you can't even put a hand in his face, he's making it. It rose my level of playing with Cap City, most of my teammates already have [college] offers, I got some great experience and exposure in Maryland this past summer.
Sports: You compete in outdoor track during the spring as both a sprinter and a thrower [Ed note: He has the MAU school record in the javelin throw.]
Johnson: I was just playing AAU ball, playing two sports. But my whole family had done track, so I knew it was coming. I got pushed into track, I was and still am a sprinter, but [Coach] Amanda [Mullen] put a javelin in my hands, and she taught me how to hold it and said to throw it. I won the first event in Brattleboro, throwing 120 [feet], I was like, is that good? I didn't know. This year was more about refining my skills, I made it to New Englands, placed third at states, I worked with a coach that helped with my footwork. I threw out my shoulder sophomore year at states, that was heartbreaking.
Sports: How is it trying to do both sprints and throwing?
Johnson: It's a blessing, I think it's a genes thing. My uncle was a pole-vaulting, sprinter, thrower. My mom's twin sister was a thrower and my mom played sports. I always knew it was in me, I just had to find it. My dad did track, long-distance running. I enjoy the sprinting and throwing.
Sports: Some of your family is from Alabama but you've lived in Vermont your entire life. What kind of relationship do you have with your extended family?
Johnson: We go back every summer, it's a roots thing. I know where my roots are. My family lives in the Birmingham area, but originally from Selma. We have deep roots and I go back all the time to see my family and it reminds me what I'm working for.
Sports: There are definitely cultural differences between Alabama and Vermont. What is same or different between the two?
Johnson: One difference is the soul food. My grandfather says that's why I'm big and strong. I love soul food. A [similar] thing, I would say the connections. Landscape-wise, it's way different.
Sports: Your grandfather Leon is the Mount Anthony school board president and he's been an official for many different sports for a long time. How is it having him around the schools?
Johnson: He's honestly my best friend. My grandfather and I are inseparable, there's a lot of pictures of me and him together. I always went to the tournament he'd ref, every softball tournament, I went with him. He really watched and coached me, fixing my elbow shooting a basketball to throwing the shot put. Everything he's done shows in me now as I get older. I have his personality.
Sports: What's your plan after Mount Anthony?
Johnson: I want to major in accounting. I don't have a sport I really want to play in college, so I'm playing by ear.
Sports: You have a very strong social media presence, especially on Instagram. In 2019, how important is that presence?
Johnson: Social media can be a great platform if you know how to use it. I have a couple coaches on there, you put some things out there every so often. If you're public with it, you can get it advertised. It's also a marketing tool as well as keeping up with your friends. I feel I'm marketed myself and my family well.
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