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Student Athlete of the Week: Olivia John

John brings Cougars to new heights

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Editor's note: Each week, The Wake Weekly will honor a local high school senior athlete who put in years of work in a sport, but who may not finish their final season after COVID-19 caused spring sports to be postponed. 

WAKE FOREST - This week's student athlete of the week is Wake Forest girls lacrosse player Olivia John.

The senior attacker has been playing lacrosse since she was in the first grade living in South Carolina. She played in a recreational league. Her love for sports in general came from her parents.

"My dad grew up playing lacrosse and my mom grew up playing soccer," John said. "I started out with soccer first and then went to lacrosse. I felt like I was better at lacrosse than soccer."

John and her family moved to Wake Forest when she was in eighth grade. At that point, she started looking for a high school lacrosse team she could play for. She was districted to go to Wake Forest High School, but at the time, their girls lacrosse team was just getting off the ground.

John's parents teamed up with current head coach Ivan Braszo to help progress the Cougars into a more competitive state.

"My parents coached at our local high school in South Carolina, so they wanted to stick with the sport here in Wake Forest," John said. "We saw Wake Forest play. Their program is new, so my parents wanted to get involved. They started coaching as assistants. One of my dreams was being on a high school lacrosse team."

John's dream came true her freshman year as she got to see the field in 2017 as a freshman. She scored five goals and registered 13 assists.

John took a big leap forward in her sophomore year. She scored 40 goals and dished out 14 assists. The following season, she cashed in 39 goals and recorded 21 assists.

Entering this season, John was looking to elevate Wake Forest to new heights as a senior captain. However, a shortage of referees only allowed the Cougars to play two games.

Then not too long after their second game, John heard the devastating news that the North Carolina High School Athletic Association was going to shut down the spring sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We were on our way to practice when I first heard the news," John said. "My teammate Daisy Colvin pulled up and told me that we have to go back to the school for a team meeting. We went to the meeting and that's when Coach Braszo told us that our season was postponed. We were already having issues with having referees come to our games. So it felt like our season was getting cancelled again. We should have six games in the first two weeks of the season, but we only had two games."

The announcement was heartbreaking for multiple reasons. John has two younger sisters, Hannah and Isabelle. She was supposed to play her senior year with Hannah, a freshman goalkeeper for Wake Forest. However, the two sisters only got to share the high school field for just two games.

"We played in recreational leagues growing up together," John said. "It was nice to play with Hannah again for a high school team, even if it was only for a little bit."

With her senior season cut short, John will focus on attending Florida Institute of Technology for college next year. She said she will study general biology with a focus in wildlife conservation.

It was a fun journey while it lasted for John. She and her parents helped put Wake Forest girls lacrosse on the map and now she will have to move on without completing her senior season.

"I'm just so proud of the program and this group of girls," John said. "We're not a regular lacrosse program, but I think that makes us special. I've just tried to approach being a leader by not being the loudest, but setting a good example. I want to be there for my teammates when they need it. I just want to be a good friend. The program has grown since my freshman year. We all have come so far and are such hard workers."