Until this year, senior Marissa Johnson lost every single basketball game on Decatur High School’s team.
“People kept quitting, players were getting in trouble for fighting with each other during practice; it was really messy and everyone was really negative about our team,” Johnson said. “I felt like we were a big joke.”
Instead of focusing on the bad, Johnson decided to keep a positive attitude.
“The first couple years were really upsetting, it hit me hard,” she said. “Then I realized, it might be my own fault and I needed to come back and try harder and work to improve.”
Johnson trained for basketball all summer long before her senior year started.
“I took on a leadership role as captain and I really wanted to lead by example,” she said. “I figured if the girls saw me giving it my all every practice, they would step up too.”
Johnson wanted her love of the game to become contagious.
“I noticed that many of our players did it because they felt obligated to play in some way, but I’ve always done it because I loved it,” she said. “I wanted to spread that feeling to the girls and get them excited to come to practice.”
The Decatur girls won their first game in years this season.
“It felt great, like we broke the curse,” Johnson said. “But at the same time, we did not play our best, so I still wasn’t happy. This taught me that it’s not about winning — if you play hard and play well you feel satisfied.”
Johnson tried to not focus on her team’s losing streak.
“For every game, I didn’t think about losing, I would come convinced that we could do better and win this time, which made it so much more enjoyable for me,” she said. “If you go out there competitive to beat your record and to beat the other team you go out with a purpose and if you have a good attitude, you believe in your team and help them do better.”
Johnson’s highlight of the year was helping newcomers learn the game.
“This year was my favorite year by far,” she said. “We have a lot of really talented freshmen that came in and I have high hopes they will get better and better.”
Johnson played point guard and shooting guard. She was usually one of the top scorers for every game.
“Although my team and I only won one game the entire season, I felt our bond and chemistry was much stronger than the previous years,” she said. “With only 10 girls we managed to end the season with eight, two critical teammates were injured a couple weeks before the season ended. The leading point guard and high-scoring post players left us even shorter, but we continued to fight and I kept my spirits high because that was the only way to react.”
As well as dominating the basketball court, Johnson received a 3.96 GPA, took on four AP classes, was ASB secretary and participated in track.
“I think it’s easy for me because I genuinely like both sports and school,” she said. “So I make each a priority in life and make sure to manage my time well.”
At Johnson’s last game, she scored 15 out of 19 points total for her team, ending her high school basketball career with a personal record.
“I had learned through the past years of people quitting and conflicts between teammates and embarrassing losses that you can’t look at the situation as a whole, but instead you must fight harder each day without being discouraged or negative,” she said. “Giving up was not even a second thought in my mind and I’m glad I played my season the way I did.”