Jerica Johnson excels in and out of the sports arena.

The James T. Alton eighth-grade student plays soccer and basketball on the middle school and high school levels, is a good student and gives back to her community.

She started playing basketball her first year in middle school.

Johnson, 13, started playing with her dad and her six older brothers. It was her brothers who encouraged her to try out for the team. She made the team and found out she was a pretty good player.

She joked she’s spoiled by her brothers but also is competitive with them.

“They always make me strive to do better,” she said. “I want to try to be better than them.”

Although she has all brothers at home, she’s found sisterhood among her fellow players.

“I like the connection we all make with each other,” she said. “I like seeing people smile and hanging out with everyone.”

JTA Athletic Director Richard Rowland said Johnson brought a component of teamwork to the team. The whole team became like sisters, he said.

“They brought an element of team and family both here and at the high school that I was not accustomed to seeing,” Rowland said. “What they have is truly unique and she brought a large part of that here with her.”

When she became a sixth-grader it was Rowland’s second year coaching. He was curious how Johnson would fit into the program.

“She’s the most energetic person I’ve ever met in my life,” he said “There’s no off switch.”

For basketball that was great, he said.

In the fall, Johnson plays basketball at JTA and also starts on the JV team at North Hardin High School in Radcliff and played minutes on varsity. In the spring she plays indoor soccer.

“Those are two sports that require a high level of energy and she maintains it all year long,” Rowland said.

Her mom, Rachel Johnson, said the family is proud of all her achievements.

“Every minute she strives to do better, on the court and off the court,” Rachel said.

She does well in school and with sports, she said, but she knows there’s always room for improvement.

“She’s a true Trojan fan,” Rachel said.

One Halloween, Rowland spotted her in the hallway. She was dressed in all black with the entire fight song on the back of her clothes.

In athletics, Johnson has helped the Lady Trojans to three semifinal appearances in the seventh and eighth grade tournaments. They also were twice regular season runners-up and north division regular season champions once, Rowland said.

Johnson has played for the Kentucky Elite AAU team based in Hardin County for the past two years.

She was called up last year as a seventh-grader to play soccer for North Hardin but Kentucky High School Athletic Association regulations classifies soccer as a collision sport and seventh-graders are only allowed to play up to JV. On that team she was a started and achieved the offensive player of the year.

She also plays for an indoor soccer league at Mockingbird Valley Sports complex in Louis­ville and for a Vine Grove team.

Johnson has been a nominee for the Trojan Award at JTA and won the JTA Trojan Pride award twice for school spirit, Rowland said.

Outside of school and sports, she likes to help others. She’s active at Southeast Christian Church in Elizabethtown and volunteers to pack meals to send to countries in need. She also helps the VFW in Vine Grove pack Christmas stockings for children who don’t have much for Christmas.

“I just like to help out,” she said.

On top of all that, she’s a good student and likes to joke around with the teachers.

“But I know when to take it serious,” she said.

She has been on the all A/B honor roll for two years and Rowland said she probably will achieve the same academic success this year.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1740 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.