Samantha Martel Johnson is a 29-year-old professional women’s soccer player from Palmdale, California. She’s been involved with the sport since she was 3 years old and continues to put all her heart and soul into what she does.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with her on a zoom call to learn a little more about her history of playing the game and what she does outside of training and soccer.
Currently, Johnson is playing for Melbourne City FC, a team in an Australian professional league where she plays defense. Before moving to participate overseas, Johnson played in the NWSL for multiple years, first at the Chicago Red Stars and then at the Utah Royals. Despite her experience there, Johnson mentioned that she was happier playing in the W-League in Australia.
There was a small period in time where Johnson quit playing because she wasn’t happy anymore, and she stated, “I didn’t feel like anything I was giving to the game was giving anything back to me, so I was just kind of tired of the lifestyle of being a professional athlete…”
Something changed when she was offered a chance to come back to Melbourne, and she says she enjoys it much more because it feels like she has more freedom.
The most significant difference for Johnson, she said, as she doesn’t have to deal with the same problems in Australia that she does in America, “They have their own issues with race… it’s kind of shocking sometimes to realize we’re still fighting over things like race in 2021…” She also said playing in Australia is more her style and commented that, “In Australia, you can turn professional when you’re 15 or 16… we’re more mature people and physically when we get to the professional level because we’ve gone through college…”
Outside of the sport, Johnson is very active as well.
Off the field, Johnson is also an entrepreneur for a company called, “BETTER,” where she represents youth children in school, sports, and other non-profit organizations. Johnson discussed her passion for her business saying, “I want to enhance their education experience, so kids that come from juvy and have behavioral problems…and she [Maggie her agent] convinced me that I could use my talent to do what I want to do off the field.”
I asked Johnson how this year has been and what difficulties there have been in terms of being a professional since there was a time when no one was able to play anywhere. Johnson answered saying, “the time off didn’t necessarily have an impact on her as a player, but rather as a person. It’s taken me back because the world is in a weird place.” From the time given to rest, she was able to take a step back and focus on the more important things in life, like helping others out and prioritizing her health above all else.
My favorite question that I got to inquire was when I asked Johnson about the advice she had for any kids looking to extend their soccer careers; whether professionally or in college, or even just make a better and higher-ranked team. Johnson had a powerful response, explaining, “It’s very important to be coachable and to be super humble…and being open to learning new positions is something that could definitely help younger players.”
Samantha plans to continue playing soccer in the W-League in Australia for the time being and focus on doing good deeds to help those in need through multiple organizations and her own business.