Sophomore basketball player showcases large presence on court

Owen Gibbs

The final seconds tick down. The Vikings have the ball. Sophomore power forward, Rodney Johnson pushes his way through heavy traffic to get to the goal and score. As one of the youngest players on the team, Rodney continues to show growth as he advances to lead the team in the future.

“Being the only sophomore on varsity trains me to be better at basketball,” Rodney said. “It makes me compete and it makes me work harder everyday, so it makes me a better player.”

The defense and offense both play equally vital roles in the game of basketball and Rodney exells at both.

“Rodney is a big defensive presence and his role in the offense is getting better too,” senior Nick Kaspar said. “He’s very active, athletic, and has a long reach which makes him tough for opponents.”

Leadership in basketball is about bringing everyone on the court together, Rodney shows leadership both through example and guidance, despite being younger than most of the players on the team.

“Rodney is a leader because of his intensity on the court and how focused he is,” senior Logan Chamberlain said. “He will only get better for the years to come as he continues to focus on the game and building his skills.”

Leaders know their team, and despite being a sophomore, Rodney is already familiar with his teammates strengths and weaknesses.

“A big part of leading is leading by example,” coach Christopher Jones said, “Rodney leads by getting the repetitions in and knowing how things work around here. And he is developing those work habits and understanding what we’re doing here and just doing that on a daily basis and just showing the other guys what they need to be doing.”

His leadership skills extends off the court, sometimes proving to be useful outside of basketball.

“To play basketball you have to work on things like communication and teamwork,” Rodney said. “Basketball teaches me a lot of life lessons that I can take anywhere.”

Despite high expectations, Jones doesn’t like to focus purely on game outcomes but instead on how players improve.

“We don’t like to count games, we just like to see the guys go out and continue to get better,” Jones said. “And if we continue to get better in practice and when we compete on gameday, at the end of the season we’ll just see what we got.”

Basketball has impacted Rodney’s life in a big way and he hopes he can use his skills to impact his team.

“I love the game of basketball and I don’t know where I’d be without it,” Rodney said. “I believe in my athletic ability as well as my team’s.”