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The man behind the mask

Spencer Johnson chats with Waldorf goalie.

Spencer Johnson chats with Waldorf goalie.

By Marisa Donnelly          

“What I love about hockey is my teammates…the speed of the game, and the unbelievable skill and hard work it takes to excel in the game,” said Spencer Johnson, the sophomore Spotlight Athlete of the Week from Burnsville, Minnesota.

Each week, the Waldorf College Athletic Department honors an outstanding student athlete on the Warrior athletics page and through a campus-wide email. This past week it was Johnson. This recognition was due to his assist and two goals, one being the game-winner during a 5-2 win over No. 9 Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville on January 17.

In the 2014-2015 season, Johnson has scored five goals and contributed five assists. Not only is he a valuable asset to the team as both a defenseman and forward, but he’s also a great friend and teammate on and off the ice.

When asked about his season, Johnson said, “The team this year is unreal. We are all so close. I truly call the guys my brothers. We’re a big family and we play for each other, putting the team before ourselves.” He defined the team’s main goal for the season: to win a national championship. “That’s the one goal that’s on the board in the locker room,” he said. Having the goal posted is a constant reminder of what he and his teammates are working towards. Johnson said that it helps to bring them even closer together.

Johnson has been playing hockey since he was five, and skating since he was two years old. When asked about what influenced his love for the game, he said having three older brothers and one older sister who played really shaped his and his family’s passion for the sport. Being able to not only watch, but practice with his family members, helped him to be comfortable on the ice as a young child.

It’s obvious that Johnson is passionate about his sport, but hockey isn’t always fun and games. “One thing I hate about hockey is how expensive it is. Equipment, training, and ice time burn a hole in anyone’s pocket,” Johnson said. True to his positive character, Johnson ellaborated, “But my love for the game makes me look past the money.”

On the ice Johnson is dedicated, determined, and a team player, but in order to get a real sense of the January 19-26 Spotlight Athlete of the Week, it’s important to get to know who Johnson really is—the ‘man behind the mask.’

“When I’m not playing hockey I’m a huge gamer,” Johnson said. “I love the Xbox one and my favorite game is either Halo or NHL 15. I also play games like Forza, Far Cry 4, Assassins Creed, and Destiny.” Johnson continued, saying that during his free time he’ll either be gaming or spending time with friends and family, specifically his girlfriend Lynea Lindstrom and best friend Colten Galligan.

When Johnson’s not on the ice, he can be found taking the dogs on walks, going out for dinner, or just spending time with Lynea. “I also love to fish with Colten,” Johnson said. “Ice fishing, fishing off the dock, or even in his 14 ft. aluminum boat. Fishing gives me peace.” During his summers off, you’ll find Johnson umpiring baseball games or finding other ways to stay busy. “When I’m not on the ice, I’m just another kid at heart, living and loving his life, and making the most of it,” he said.

When asked about the best thing that ever happened to him, Johnson couldn’t pick just one moment. He talked about both his decision to attend Waldorf College, and a time when he was fishing with Colten and caught a six pound bass. For Johnson, being a student athlete was a dream come true. “I almost gave up after my last year of junior hockey,” he said, “But then Coach Shelanksi really pursued me to play here and before you know it I’m in my fourth semester here.” When asked about the six pound bass, which he caught off a beach in Orchard Lake in Lakeville, Minnesota, he said with a laugh, “I felt so accomplished after I reeled that monster in.”

It’s obvious that Johnson has a humorous, fun-loving side, but he is also serious. “I think my biggest fear is not being free in a country that is based on freedom. The way the U.S. Is headed concerns me a great deal and I feel as if liberty is slowly being taken away from us,” Johnson said.

Finally, Johnson was asked to share one thing about him that not everyone knows. “One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is I have a great faith in Jesus Christ,” he said. “I believe he died for my sins and everyone else’s.”

Spencer Johnson, a 22-year-old from Burnsville, Minnesota, is a talented hockey player. His place as the January 19-26 Spotlight Athlete of the Week is well deserved, but there is more to him than the number ‘4’ jersey on his back. Beyond Johnson’s stellar performance on the ice, he is a positive teammate and loyal friend who takes pleasure in the simple things—fishing, walking the dogs with his girlfriend, or kicking back and playing video games.