Oct. 5, 2001
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Senior Rusty Johnson has moved through the Santa Clara soccer program while moving up the career goalkeeping statistics lists at the same time. Johnson currently ranks third all-time in career shutouts with 23.5, and fourth in career goals-against average at 0.79. He also has the ninth best single-season GAA at 0.73 in 1999. In 1998 and 1999 Johnson led the Broncos to consecutive College Cup appearances, including a spot in the National Championship game in 1999. A leader on the field and off, Johnson recently took some time out and answered a wide variety of questions ranging from personal goals to advice he is giving the next generation of Bronco superstars.
Q: Is it hard to believe that you are in your final year of college? Has it gone by fast for you?
A: "It has gone by so quickly. I sometimes mix up the years it has gone by so fast. I have lost track of many of the guys that were with us, and what years they were with us. Everything has just flown by, especially now that I am at the end of my collegiate career. I really feel like it has only been a month or so ago that I started here. It goes by so fast and once you really start into your classes and get into everything, it just flies by."
Q: What sort of advice have you given Steve Cronin who appears to be the heir apparent to your position next year?
A: "I haven't had to give Steve much advice at all this year. He has come in to his freshman year really prepared. I have given him some advice on little things. I told him that when you are training everyday and it becomes your livelihood that you really need to pay attention to and take care of the little injuries that occur. Other than that he hasn't really needed any direction. I think that he will come in soon enough and really do the job for Santa Clara."
Q: What sort of goals have you set for yourself this year?
A: "This year, I just want our team to win as many games as possible. I haven't set a lot of personal goals. I found in the '99 season, I had set some personal goals but they weren't really set in stone, it was more of a matter of us winning games that mattered. I think that if I start worry about my own statistics I feel that my performance fails a little bit. I think that it was more important to think about getting wins on the board and keeping the ball out of the net, rather than thinking about shutouts or goals-against average."
Q: You just recently picked up your 23.5 shutout of your career, moving you into the top three all-time at Santa Clara. How does it feel knowing you are among the elite players that have played at one of the best programs in the country?
A: "It makes me feel real good. Especially in the fact that I wasn't recruited here. I give my coaches a lot of credit. Dan Dalzochio, who just left here this past year, and Eric Yamamoto really mentored me, forcing me to work hard and learn. I don't even think I would have had a chance to play here if it wasn't for that good year of coaching I received my redshirt year here. I really got a good idea of what it takes to play at this level. I am very honored to be among the top of that list. That is something that I will be able to look back on later in life and really appreciate."
Q: What happened to the long hair from a couple of years ago?
A: (Laughs) "After I saw myself on television I decided to cut my hair. Actually I just got sick of it, so I cut it off."
Q: What are your plans following this year?
A: "Whew, I have been asked that a lot lately. Some of it depends on how we do this year. I would like to play somewhere, and if teams are interested then I would try. I think that my education here will serve me well, so whether or not I have a chance to continue playing, I think I will have an opportunity to make some money in whatever I do."
Q: Who is the person you most admire and why?
A: "I have the most admiration for my mom. My mom has been through a lot in here life. She is living by herself right now, and trying to build a life for herself by working in physical therapy. She has had to struggle with going back to school after not going to school for a while in addition to buying her own house and living on her own. I have a lot of admiration for that because it takes a lot of courage to do it that way. I live here and I have friends all around me with lots of things to do, while she lives by herself and has to make her own things to do and really fight to maintain her livelihood. I really admire her for that."
Q: What is your favorite soccer memory?
A: "Overall my favorite memory was going to the College Cup, playing in the College Cup and the National Championship game, there really is nothing like it. I don't think anything will ever beat that. But, in getting there, the most exciting game I have ever played in was the Stanford game that year (1999). It was wet and just a scrappy game. It was the most incredible competition I have ever been involved in."
Q: How has your overall experience at Santa Clara affected your life?
A: "Being here has really opened my eyes to many issues in the world. I grew up in a military family with a very governmental idea of the way the world is. Here at Santa Clara looks into the issues into these things and the students are very inquisitive. It really makes you think about the bigger picture out there in the world, especially now after the recent tragedies. I hear a lot of in depth discussions and it is not all slanted towards how the U.S. is going to take care of business, but more of taking a look at the picture as a whole. The whole diversity of the University has really contributed to my ability to think about the bigger picture, and analyze critically certain things. I think that is really the most valuable thing Santa Clara. I knew I was going to get the Engineering education that I came here for, but the broader education I received was what really distinguishes this place from anywhere else.