a community engagement initiative of Momence CUSD #1
“Every day I wake up and say, “I’m going to do great things. I’m going to be amazing.” And that mindset carries me a long way. What I was talking about with basketball, once you get down on yourself, it’s over. I try not to ever doubt myself. I know I can be amazing. That’s why I do all these sports and I just do all the stuff that I can before I get out of high school so I know I’m ready.”
By Nate Fisher
A’Miracle Johnson drops this morsel of wisdom on us during our discussion about her life and sports highlights in the Momence district. It’s this philosophy that keeps her going on the court, but her hyper-positive attitude has the added benefit of helping her climb out of bed during those early mornings for training. “I like building my muscles more. I like getting into the dynamics of different games, sports-wise, and I like getting stronger,” she says. She mentions that a positive mindset is the key to a “strong” mindset.
I realized that if I don’t toughen up, then I’m not going to be able to get where I want to be in life.
She’s added track to her sports repertoire this year, but A’Miracle’s two major sports are basketball and softball. “I love basketball… It’s like a mindset game. You got to be mentally tough. Once you get down on yourself the entire game, you got to build that positive mindset,” she says. Her mental fortitude was tested when she was moved from point guard to a post position when she jumped from eighth to ninth grade. “That change is on my mind. It was different,” she says. “So I had to adjust to it. And I did.” For A’Miracle, the reward of basketball is in meeting or exceeding your own expectations and personal goals: “I really like that feeling of knowing you’re gonna have a great game, and then you have a great game and it’s just ecstasy.” Though she didn’t play softball this year due to a scheduling conflict, she enjoys the “conditioning of softball.”
There are two major sources of inspiration that she names. One is her parents. “They’re my number one supporters. I love them,” she says. “They are very supportive of sports. That’s why I’m able to play all the sports I play because they’re very supportive.” The second is Coach Rounds. “He’s really the one that played a part in pushing me to be better,” she explains. “There was a lot of pressure on me because I was a freshman playing on varsity and everyone expected me to be amazing. I didn’t have that confidence. He pushed me and molded me to be more confident in myself.”
Though the future is still largely up for grabs, A’Miracle is set on her decision to join the Air Force after school. “They’re very tough on you. I like the pressure and the competition,” she says. “There’s gonna be a lot of competition in the Air Force.” In her mind, the Air Force is yet another opportunity to sharpen her discipline and excel both physically and mentally. She’s had to develop these tools on her own over the years to cope with crises of confidence, and she feels a career in the Air Force would supplement what she’s taught herself.
If she could speak to a younger version of herself, she’d tell young A’Miracle to develop her patented mindset early on. “I would have told my younger self to build that stronger mindset earlier because, oh my gosh, I was a crybaby back then. I couldn’t take anything,” she says. “I should have built that stronger mindset younger and I would have just been able to brush it off and be like, okay, it’s fine. Move on. Next play.” Though we doubt someone with her strength could ever be labeled a “crybaby,” we understand that she overcame real turbulence in her self-confidence thanks to the methods and attitudes she developed for herself. There was a crossroads moment in that moment of vulnerability, and she grasped the initiative to become the version of herself she preferred. “I realized that if I don’t toughen up, then I’m not going to be able to get where I want to be in life,” she says. “So I just had to force myself to be a different person.”
True to her form, there’s another tidbit of wisdom from the ever-positive A’Miracle as we close out our conversation. She’s not wrong; Sometimes, we have to force the door because nobody will unlock it for us. And that’s some truth.