A flock of family and friends gathered in the commons area of Alcovy High School to watch Kalia Johnson sign to the University of Kentucky. It's been Johnson’s dream to play in the SEC for as long as she could remember, which is why Johnson verbally committed to Kentucky her sophomore year. That dream became a reality on Friday afternoon.
“I’m just proud of her. I know she’s excited and that’s what’s important,” Melissa Johnson, Kalia’s mother, said.
Kalia pitched for Alcovy and was a heavy hitter in the lineup too. She helped lead the Lady Tigers to two straight region championships in her junior and senior year.
“She’s worked hard her whole life for this moment. I’m just a proud dad right now,” Steven Stapp, Johnson’s father said.
“When she first started she started with the boys. She played ball with the boys and I just thought this was gonna be a little flash in the pan, something to do, but she gradually came through with help from her grandad which was a big help,” he added. “I’m just proud.”
“Like I told her, as long as she went to school I didn’t care if it was Division I, III, whatever. As long as she was in school getting her education I was fully behind whatever school she picked, but if she picked Alabama I wasn’t going to any of the games,” Stapp joked.
Kalia started playing softball when she was four and her grandfather Emory Johnson has been coaching her ever since. It’s always been a family affair for Johnson and that’s why she chose the Wildcats.
“It’s a big family school and I really like that. The softball program’s obviously really good. It’s got the major I want. So I’m gonna be a teacher,” Johnson said smiling.
It’s been a lot of hard work and travel ball for Kalia over the years, but the journey has just begun.
“Interesting. Long,” Melissa said of her daughter’s journey up until this point. “She’s had lots of practices. It’s been fun though, she’s had a lot of fun.”
Kalia’s goal for her freshman year is to start and play. She wants to prove her worth and make the people of Alcovy proud. Her coaches love the fact that she’s left-handed and that she works hard.
“It’s so overwhelming,” Kalia said. “It’s really exciting knowing that it's actually here and I’m going. Knowing that I get to go is a really big step for me. I just hope I make everybody proud.”