The Northwest Territory Métis Nation would like to congratulate Nevada Johnson on being selected as the Softball BC Indigenous Minor Athlete of the Year 2022, and being a Fraser regional recipient of the 2021 Premier’s Awards for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport through ISPARC. We’ve had the honor of speaking with Nevada regarding this award, her experience with sports, and what she plans to do next in the upcoming years.
What started your love for Softball?
“My family! I am a third-generation softball player. My Grandma Frieda (Villebrun) Johnson played competitive softball starting as a teenager in Fort Smith, and my dad grew up at the softball park. He went on to play on the Canadian junior National team! I started at the age of 5, and my dad taught me to pitch. He coached my team for years. Grandma was in the stands cheering me on!”
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of Softball?
“I’m definitely a multi-sport athlete. Softball is my main sport, but I have played volleyball, ringette and hockey. I’ve always enjoyed sports growing up! Other than that, I enjoy any activities that involve being outdoors. I’ll use any excuse to hike, bike, kayak, explore the Fraser River, and look at the wildlife around me,”
Is there anyone that you look up to as a role model and why?
“My obvious role models would be my family. But for the last year, I’ve had a coach named Joni Frei, who coached at UBC Okanagan and ran the Canada Futures tour. Coach Frei pushes me and supports me, and she has helped me understand what being an indigenous athlete means to me. I am so grateful to have her support, words cannot explain how amazing she is. Coach Frei is one of the most empowering people I’ve ever met.”
After receiving this award, what’s your next step?
“I’m currently playing NCAA Division 2 softball at Simon Fraser University. I will be playing u23 Women’s on a local team in the off-season this summer. In 2023, I will be playing in the Canadian Native Fastpitch Championships in Calgary and hopefully coaching in the North American Indigenous Games in Halifax, where I have applied to be an apprentice coach. Until then, I’m going to continue working hard at my training.”
Do you have any inspirational words you would like to say to other indigenous athletes?
“There are two pieces of advice I’d like to give. First, work hard even when you think no one is watching. Dedicate yourself to your sport, your team, and most importantly yourself. This means pushing that extra bit harder, doing those 10 extra reps, and setting yourself apart from everyone else. Second, ‘control the controllables.’ This is something that Coach Frei has taught me. It’s a way to touch on your mental discipline and notice what’s in and out of your control. For example, you can realize that an ump made a bad call in a game, but it’s not something you can control and you still need to handle those situations with grace and respect. In doing so you will become more mentally tough and more aware. Overall, this will make you a better athlete, and more importantly a better person. Acting with compassion and kindness can take you anywhere you want to go in life.”