Twenty-four-year-old defender Julie Johnston was the breakout star of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, playing every minute of all seven games and helping to lead Team U.S.A. to victory. The talented young player, who hails from Mesa, Arizona, is bound for Rio next month with her teammates and ready to give everything she’s got for another big win. In between intense training days during the final countdown to Rio, (and trying on wedding dresses as she plans for marriage to fiancé Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles), the Chicago RedStars defender took a few minutes to talk about how she first landed on the soccer field and what she’ll do if they win in Rio.
When did you first start training and then competing?I started playing soccer when I was four, but started on a club team and only soccer at the age of eight.
What was your first major victory that made you think you might be good at it?My first major victory when I was young was winning State Cup. That was a goal set by our team every year.
How many hours per day do you spend training, on average?About three hours per day.
What’s been most distracting or challenging to you as you train for Rio?I think the most challenging is to not think to far ahead to Rio. It's important to take every day, day-by-day, to be as prepared as possible.
What’s your pre-game ritual?I like to have the same breakfast every game day and my game day walk. That's really the only thing that stays consistent. I also love to talk to my family and fiancé before my games.
Do you have any good luck charms or something you always bring with you when you compete?I have a cross necklace I always wear. It's a part of me and it's represents my faith. My fiancé gave it to me as my first gift and it represents strength and love to me.
What’s always in your gym bag?I always have pre-wrap for my hair.
Olympian you are most excited to meet?I am excited to watch them all. Every athlete has an amazing story.
Who will you call first if you win in Rio?My family and fiancé.
What will you do first if you win in Rio?Watch film for the next game.
Meet the other stars of Team USA here: