Let’s be honest: LMU was very fortunate to sign Ariel Johnson from the University of Florida this fall. While her impact on the court is no mirage, with 12.6 points per game, her dedication to social justice has helped transform the program in just a few months. This week, Ariel opened up about her transition to LMU, her aspirations outside of basketball and the team’s emphasis on occasionally donning those magnificent black jerseys.
Ariel Johnson (A.J.): Sometimes we take advantage of the things that we have. Being a D1 college player is a gift, it’s an honor, and not everyone has that chance to live the life we’re living. Especially for all the Black lives that have been lost in the past; they don’t get a chance to live again. That game was just an eye-opener. You never know [when] your last day of playing is.
C.B.: What are some of your strengths and weaknesses, and how do they inform your on-court production?
A.J.: I’d say that I’m a very quiet person. I always want to get along with people, and so I never really want to choose sides. [I know that] sometimes conflict is good, but I tend to shy away from it, so that’s definitely a weakness. On the positive, I think that I’m a very generous, caring person; I always want to put people in front of me, before worrying about myself. So on the court, I’m a very team player. If that means making one extra pass to my teammate, I’ll do it.
C.B.: Can you reflect on putting up 23 points vs. Pacific and San Diego, respectively?
A.J.: That was definitely a really fun one, it was a fun team win. Especially going back to Stockton, where I went to high school. I’ve played in that gym a lot of times. It was good to be back home.
C.B.: What made you want to transfer to LMU? Can you walk me through that decision?
A.J.: The coach at Florida and I ... didn’t have an understanding. I just wanted to go to a school where I could fit better into the program and into the coaching style. I wanted it to be more fast-paced.
C.B.: What are your aspirations outside of basketball?
A.J.: I really would like to become either a producer or a photographer. I’m not really sure which one, but I definitely want to be in the film industry and be part of movies and shows. Even with sports, being in charge of the cameras would be really cool. I definitely want a future in film.
C.B.: Basketball is a sport where determination is physically apparent on the court. How do you mirror that same manifestation of strength off the court with social justice work?
A.J.: There aren’t many Black student-athletes at LMU. I know that the program really wants to take initiative and spread information about Black history and the events that are going on in our world. We use our platform to update people, we use our platform to bring Black history and Black students to light. And letting the world know that we support you, no matter the color you are.
C.B.: Any final message to the fans?
A.J.: Thank you so much for always staying supportive of us. We really appreciate you. It sucks that we can’t have you guys here at our games. But we know that you’re watching online. Thank you.