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Johnson signs letter to be Blue Dragon

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Hays High School soccer coach Chris Michaelis repeatedly has used one word to describe outside mid-fielder April Johnson: competitor.

The fiery senior has pushed the pace along the outside for Hays High the past four years and helped usher in the Golden Age of Indian soccer. Now, she'll take her competitive nature to the next level at Hutchinson Community College.

Johnson signed her national letter of intent Tuesday in the HHS cafeteria to become a Blue Dragon.

"She likes to compete," Michaelis said. "She doesn't like to lose, even a little bit. If it's rock, paper, scissors, she's mad she'd lose at rock, paper, scissors. ... That's an attribute she brings to our team on a daily basis in practice."

The right-foot dominant Johnson said she became that way after growing up with brothers.

"They would always beat me up, and I always wanted to win," Johnson said.

At Hays High, Johnson has won a lot.

The Indians, now 13-2, have posted the two best seasons in school history in 2012 and 2013. As a junior, Johnson helped the squad reach the state semifinals -- a first for the program -- and the squad has broken numerous individual and team records in her time there.

Johnson scored twice and posted five assists as a junior, and she also has two goals and five assists so far this season.

At HCC, she will join another winning squad that finished 16-2 last fall.

"I really liked their campus when I went up there, and their teammates seemed like I'd get along with them pretty well," Johnson said.

To succeed at the next level, Michaelis said Johnson will need to work on her left foot and become more of a "thinking player," because the game will move much faster in college than it does in high school.

"She's gotten a lot better with her left foot, but that's going to be something that will still haunt her a little bit," Michaelis said. "At the next level, she won't be able to rely on her speed a lot because there's going to be girls as quick if not quicker than her. She'll have to become more of a thinking player at the next level. She's very capable of doing that."

Johnson, who also considered playing at Barton Community College, said she intends to major in radiology and would like to become a sonogram tech.

She said she contemplated not continuing her soccer career and going to school at Fort Hays State University but changed her mind. With graduation approaching, she sat down with her family and decided HCC was the place to be.

"I always wanted to play, and I thought I could do it and it would be fun," Johnson said. "I just didn't really realize how close it was getting."