By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Throughout his prep track and field career, Cullman’s Chris Johnson was known amongst teammates and coaches as a little ball of chaotic energy.
With 6’2, 200-pound measurables, Johnson certainly isn’t little; however, being deemed a ball of energy definitely fits the bill according to the former Bearcat standout.
“I’d agree with that,” he said. “I like to keep things pretty intense out there. I’ve always thrived on adrenaline, so it helps me to do that.”
Johnson will take his track and field skills, along with that trademark intensity, with him to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University of Daytona Beach, where the Cullman native recently inked a track and field scholarship with the NAIA program.
He will compete in shot put and hammer throw events for the Eagles. While most people are well-aware of the shot put, a few might have some questions about the hammer throw.
“It’s basically a shot put ball with a wire attached,” Johnson said. “You spin around a few times and throw it.”
Although Johnson has found a new home for the fall, it almost turned out quite differently for the young man.
According to Johnson, he was initially considering the joining military out of high school, rather than pursuing a sport.
It wasn’t until his mom informed him about a degree program offered by Emory-Riddle that Johnson made his final decision.
“She had me see about the college, and I found out they had a Homeland Security program,” Johnson recalled. “That interested me, and I was able to get a scholarship to pay for it through track and field.”
Johnson’s scholarship will initially pay for 70 percent of all his schooling needs, but has the chance to climb accordingly based on performance both in the classroom and on the field.
A visit to Emory-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus — they also house residential campuses at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville and in Prescott, Ariz. — all but locked in Johnson’s college decision.
“The coaching staff there was amazing,” he said. “They made me feel like a family right away. The school itself is very prestigious as well.”
It also didn’t hurt the campus is just a short drive to the beach.
“That helps out a lot,” Johnson said with a laugh.
As Johnson prepares himself to make the move from Cullman to the Florida Panhandle, he does so with an open mind and a belief that his journey will be well worth it in the end.
“I’m definitely excited about it,” he said. “I’m not willing to give up the sports just yet. It’s going to be an experience for me, but it’s always good to go and branch out to other parts. Just being able to get away sold me.”
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.