Oct. 1, 2008
Many athletes are creatures of habit. They cling to strict routines in training and performing their sport even to the point of developing obsessive patterns and superstitions in their quest for success. Washington State senior volleyball player Brittany Johnson is not one of those athletes.
"I like constantly changing situations," Johnson said who first moved to Pullman in January 2005 as a 17-year old and has spent the majority of the past four years on the Palouse. "I really like the four seasons I get in Pullman, especially compared to my home in Phoenix."
Johnson, a 5-foot, 9 inch outside hitter who has started in nearly every match in her Cougar career, graduated from high school a semester early in order to start her collegiate academic and athletic career at WSU. "I was already taking AP classes in high school and I jumped at the chance to start college classes and play in the Pac-10," Johnson remembers. "And it was a great opportunity to transition from the middle blocker position I played in high school and on my club team, to my outside hitter role in college."
She originally came to WSU thinking she wanted to major in actuarial sciences, the assessment of risk using math and statistics, which makes sense when you know that her mother, Mary Pace, is a vice president of an insurance company. But Johnson discovered that profession might be too staid for her personal tastes.
"With my mom's help, I figured out I wanted to do something with technology because it is constantly changing and I like that because I stay interested and motivated. I learned I could do computer science, which is coding but stuck to a computer, or major in Management Information Systems which is the business side of technology. It is a better fit since I like working with people and I like constantly changing atmospheres."
Johnson finished her MIS degree at WSU in May of 2008 and has just three more classes to complete a second degree in management operations. This summer she had an eight-week internship at one of the Big 4 international auditing and professional services firms, KPMG, in Phoenix. She not only worked on research for four different clients, but also honed her communication skills by making presentations to top-level managers and CEOs.
"All the interns were divided into engagement teams so I had to use my skills of working on teams like I do here at WSU. I used a lot of communications skills and a lot of teamwork skills and those are things I have learned not only in my degree but with the volleyball team as well," Johnson said. "It was an excellent experience and I learned a lot. It is definitely one of those resumé-builders even if I didn't take a fulltime offer of a job there, it would be very easy to go to another company and say I did an internship this Big 4 accounting firm.
The affable Johnson has already accepted a job with Accenture, an information technology consulting firm, and will start in the Phoenix office after the first of 2009. She is quick to credit her collegiate experiences saying, "I feel my Washington State University education has prepared me for anything I need to do in the real world."
As for changes on the volleyball court, Johnson is bubbling with excitement for the 2008 season, her last as a Cougar.
"I think this season is going to be a very positive transition for me and the team," Johnson said. "But like my career path, I like things that change. I'm open for the change and I think our team is ready and focused for this change. Coach Andrew (Palileo) has an amazing offensive mindset and I think his offensive system is really going to help us in the Pac-10 by giving us things to be creative with and to change into a successful team."
Already this season, Johnson became the 10th Cougar to reach 1,000 kills in a career and is steadily climbing up the school records in solo blocks. Her explosive hits on the court are Bohler Gym crowd favorites. Johnson will never change the fond memories WSU volleyball fans carry after her career is over.