South Riding, VA (September 21, 2016) – Freedom senior Graham Johnson has commit to play men’s lacrosse for Lynchburg College beginning the 2017/2018 academic school year.
“It was such a relief to receive my acceptance letter on the first day of school, and commit to play lacrosse for Lynchburg,” said Johnson. “It’s nice going into my senior year of high school knowing that my college recruiting process is done.”
Lynchburg College has acquired a reputation as an institution that offers quality educational opportunities while building the character and leadership ability of its students. Located in the eastern foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Lynchburg, Virginia, LC offers 39 undergraduate majors, 52 minors, 13 pre-professional programs, and 14 graduate degrees. U.S. News & World Report ranked LC in the top tier of southern colleges and universities offering a full range of undergraduate and master’s degree programs in the “Best Regional Universities” category.
“On top of working a full-time job, my entire recruiting process, which lasted throughout the summer following my junior year was so stressful,” shared Johnson. “Visiting a ton of schools throughout the summer allowed me to figure out what I both wanted and didn’t want in a school. I wanted a college that met all of my academic aspirations and presented the opportunity to compete in lacrosse at the highest level, and Lynchburg was one of the only schools that fit both criteria for me.”
Johnsons’ head lacrosse coach will be Steve Koudelka. Coach Koudelka has established the Lynchburg College men’s lacrosse program as a national powerhouse in his 19 seasons on the sidelines. During his tenure, Koudelka has recorded an overall record of 234-95, including 17-straight winning seasons. Lynchburg has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last four seasons. The 2015 campaign was the most successful season in program history. The Hornets finished 21-3, won the ODAC title, and advanced all the way to the NCAA Division III Tournament finals. LC won four tournament games en route to the finals and had a 19-game winning streak. Koudelka was named the All-State Coach of the Year for his efforts.
Freedom boys lacrosse head coach, Warren Danzebaker had this to say about Johnson:
“Graham is part of the strong foundation that we have used the past few years to turn the Freedom-South Riding boys lacrosse program from a .500% program in 2012/2013 into one that made the Virginia 4A State semi-finals. Graham has some attributes that you can’t coach, height (6’5″) and speed, but where Graham started to recognize and separate himself from other players in Northern Virginia was his sophomore year after attending a 3D training camp, where everyone was good. Graham recognized that the very best players there did the little things right, had very strong basic fundamentals and a dedication to pushing themselves to improve. Graham accepted this, and has been one of the hardest workers in the program the past two years, both within the structure of the Freedom practices, but also on his own. His positive attitude, and full speed mentality has helped us as coaches make the practices harder, raised the overall level of play, as well as the speed at which we practice. Graham understood after attending that camp, that there are no shortcuts, and he has helped bring that attitude to everyone in our program.”
In addition to being an All-Star lacrosse player, Johnson is an All-State swimmer. At the 2016 VHSL 4A State swim meet, he placed 3rd in the 50m freestyle, and 6th in the 100m freestyle. Despite his success in the pool, lacrosse will be the sport of choice he will compete with at the collegiate level, a sport that he’s played since the age of seven. When the All-Region attack was asked about one of his fondest lacrosse memories over that time, Johnson shared:
“Having the triple overtime goal in our regional playoff game against Woodgrove is one of my favorite high school lacrosse memories. That regional matchup was the biggest game Freedom lacrosse had ever had at that point. In the stands, our student section was completely packed, and much larger than most of our football games. We scored a goal to tie the game in the last 15-seconds of regulation to force the first of three overtimes. Each overtime was full of near misses by both teams, and after every shot I could hear our stands cringe. I was working hard the whole game, but my shots were not falling that night. Just before our our last possession of the game, Coach Danzenbaker called a time-out and mapped out a play that strongly relied on my dodge from up top.”
“The play was so memorable because I wanted the ball that entire overtime period, and it was the team’s decision to give me the shot. I ended up making a solid dodge, and had nothing to shoot at except a tiny pocket in the net so small that I truly should’ve pulled the ball out and ran the play again. But all I remember is closing my eyes, taking the shot, and hearing the entire Freedom community going crazy behind me because that score won the game, and sent us to states. It was the type of shot that if it didn’t go and we lost the game, I would have pinned it on my selfish decision because we could’ve worked for a better shot.”
“I want to thank my parents for guiding me through the college process and supporting me with everything that I needed,” share Johnson. “The entire recruiting process was new to all of us, and we were learning it together and on the go. I’d also like to thank my youth lacrosse coach, Coach Putz for teaching me the game, and my high school coach Warren Danzenbaker for teaching me how to work my way through a program without really verbally instructing me. And I’d like to thank my group of guys for being the coolest out there.”
Please join us in wishing Graham Johnson the very best on the lacrosse field, and in the classroom as he pursues a degree in Economics and Pre Law from Lynchburg College.