Arielle Johnston earned many awards in her four years playing for Salisbury University’s field hockey team.
In addition to winning the 2019 Capital Athletic Conference Player of the Year award and numerous honors for her performance on the field, Johnston spent a lot of time during her four years giving back to the community off the field.
This time went toward her role as a classroom aide in an after-school program at the Epoch Dream Center as well as volunteering at the Hope and Life Outreach homeless shelter.
Johnston also participated in a service trip to Uganda with Reaction Tour, a Christian outreach group, in January of 2019.
Johnston was selected as one of 605 nominees for the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year award. On Oct. 15, she was named one of nine finalists for the honor.
The NCAA Woman of the Year award, which honors college athletes that excel in athletics, academics, community service and leadership, will be announced as part of a virtual awards show on Nov. 13. Johnston is one of three Division III athletes still in consideration for the award.
Q: What was your initial reaction to being nominated for the award?
A: When they announced the group of 30, I went in and saw them all and thought ‘Wow, these are some amazing women and I’m in there?’ … In my mind it’s hilarious, but the more that I have thought about it, the more I realized it is a huge honor and it’s actually really cool to even be in the same category as all these other women.
Q: What are some of your favorite memories from your volunteer work?
A: There are definitely special memories for each of them. To sum it up, the thing that stood out to me the most was the relationship aspect. In those opportunities, I got to build relationships with people of different backgrounds. The takeaway for me and what I realized about myself through them was that I like mentoring, I like building relationships with people and being there as a support.
Q: What got you into working with these organizations?
A: Initially, what drove that start was that I had applied for a scholarship, and it was a volunteer-based organization. When I got it, I decided I was going to keep that promise and volunteer more, it all started with that. I just really enjoy serving and loving on people, so it grew from there. When I heard about Reaction Tour, when I read their mission statement and what their purpose was, I realized that it was on my heart and exactly what I wanted to do, so I definitely wanted to be a part of that … For, the reason I got into volunteer work is that it interests me and I like doing it, it’s really just enjoyable for me.
Q: How has your faith played a role in your decision to volunteer?
A: For me, I love the Lord and I want to reflect that. It plays a role in me wanting to love people and love them in actions, not in words. It’s really about showing up because you said you were going to and you made that commitment, whether you made it to yourself or someone else. Sometimes it’s just talked about but not lived out, so a huge conviction on my heart is to live it out and do it all in action. I just want to love people, because He loves me so much and I want to give that and let people know how loved they are.
Q: Why do you recommend these opportunities to others?
A: For one, I think it gives you a different perspective into the lives of people from different backgrounds. People in general don’t tend to go and find people that don’t look like them or that come from different backgrounds, and you miss out on an opportunity to meet so many amazing people with different stories and to have a better appreciation and understanding for people. You really don’t know peoples’ stories until you go out and see them and talk to them. Whatever you choose to do volunteering-wise, because there’s so many different opportunities, it gives you the chance to see life through a different lens. I definitely encourage that for everyone.
By NICK LEWIS
Featured photo: Marshall Haas image.