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Sandy Journal

Two-sport Jordan athlete receives appointment to Naval Academy

Jun 10, 2019 11:26AM ● By Ron Bevan

Naval Academy appointee Tommy Johnson played on Jordan’s varsity football team as an offensive and defensive lineman as well ran on the track team. He also was a member of two school choirs and the student council. Photo provided by Tommy Johnson.

By Ron Bevan | [email protected]

A lifelong obsession with planes has led a two-sport Jordan athlete to a prestigious appointment to the United States Naval Academy.

Tommy Johnson, the son of Randy and Shauna Johnson of Sandy, will join the latest class at that Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland this summer.

“I report to the academy in Annapolis on June 27 at 7 a.m.,” Johnson said. “This is something I have been wanting for a long time. I get to serve my country, learn how to fly and get an education all at the same time.”

Johnson, a senior at Jordan, wore the school colors competing as both a football player and on the track team. In fact, it was while competing that he found out he was going to the academy.

“I found out I was going when I was at a track meet,” Johnson said. “I had a brief break from competition. I looked at my phone and saw the email.”

The first person Johnson thought of when he heard was his father. He had to pass on the great news. Trouble was, his phone was almost out of battery.

“I had to borrow a phone to call my dad,” Johnson said. “It was important to me that he knew as soon as I did. So we celebrated through a phone call.”

Johnson ran the distance races for Jordan’s track team. He also played on the offensive and defensive lines for the football team. At 6'3" and 215 pounds, Johnson was a natural to be a lineman on a high school football team. But his build almost goes against all that is pictured in a distance runner.

“You look at him and wonder why he wants to run distance because he is so big physically,” Jordan track coach Alyssa Dalton said. “I looked at him and said, ‘You are going to sprint for me, right?’ He is built like a sprinter, but he runs the distances so effortlessly.”

“The thing I love about Tommy is he is exactly what we want in a student athlete in a high school,” Jordan athletic director Brandon Watts said. “He is not the star, but he is dedicated, works hard and has a good time. He doesn’t get hung up on the individual attention some other players do. Tommy just wants to be a part of it and do his very best.”

Johnson didn’t get much time this year to run track, however. He was too busy doing many other extra-curricular activities. And carried a rather large class load.

“I do a lot of things at the school,” Johnson said. “I’m an active person. I like to stay busy and help others out.”

To that end Johnson didn’t just compete in athletics, but sang in two choirs, served on the student council and worked in a group that helps freshmen assimilate to the high school life.

All of this helped in getting Johnson into the Naval Academy, as they look for leadership in a candidate.

“It is quite difficult to get in the academy,” Johnson said. “You start your junior year with a preliminary application, which has to include your grade point average and school activities. They can say yes or no right then and if it is no then you are out.”

Once Johnson was past that the actual application began. A physical test must be passed and a screening by a doctor is given.

“They need to know your body can handle everything that is thrown at you,” Johnson said. “They need to know that you are the right size and height.”

Once a candidate is cleared physically, their school work and community work are checked. Teachers are interviewed and grades are checked constantly to make sure they remain high.

“The two big things to get in is your leadership, or what you have done in your life in that way, and grades,” Johnson said. “Then you have to get a congressional application. I was nominated by both Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. John Curtis. Even with all that only about 6% that get congressional nominations make it to Annapolis.”

Johnson became interested in joining the Naval Academy because of his love for flying.

“I love airplanes. I have my entire life,” Johnson said. “When I was young the second I saw an airplane I knew that’s what I wanted to do. When looking into how to get into flying, the Navy seemed the right way. They fly the F-18 Advanced Super Hornet, which is my favorite jet. That is the jet flown by the Blue Angels. I have always been fascinated with the Blue Angels and what they do.”

 It was Johnson’s sophomore year that he learned about getting into the academy and not just the Navy. To him, striving to get into the academy seemed like the best path possible.

“He has been an important part of everything at Jordan,” Watts said. “To see him get this opportunity to go to the Naval Academy I think ranks right up there with others that have been recognized at the national level.”