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Dec. 1, 2003

About thirty miles away is the distance in between Columbia and Camden. Thirty miles from the people who look up to her and love her the most. Crystal Johnson, a freshman from Camden, came to USC on a volleyball scholarship after telling her parents that she would not go there when she was younger. Johnson, like many people in life, thought one way but ended up doing the unexpected.

Johnson first made the basketball team in seventh grade and went on throughout her junior high days playing hoops, but during her freshmen year, her older cousin asked her to join the volleyball team.

“My freshmen year of high school, my older cousin and friends played,” stated Johnson. “They told me that I was tall and I should play. I tried it, ended up making the junior varsity team and I enjoyed it so I stuck with it.”

Changing from a basketball player to a volleyball player wasn’t the only transition for Johnson. The 6’0 outside hitter grew up a Clemson fan despite favoring Maryland and North Carolina more.

“I grew up a Clemson fan because I wanted to pull against my parents,” Johnson said. “My parents favored South Carolina so I went with the Tigers, but in all I really pulled for Maryland and North Carolina more. I really wanted to be a Tarheel.”

As her high school career went on, the bond between her and her teammates grew. Her senior year, the younger teammates on the Camden High School volleyball squad looked up to her and when it came to deciding where she wanted to play Division I volleyball, Johnson chose the University of South Carolina over Ohio State, Maryland, and Auburn.

“I chose USC over the other schools because I am so attached to my father and I didn’t want to be far away from him,” stated Johnson. “I also chose USC because Columbia is about 30 miles away from Camden and it gives me the chance to go back and see my former teammates that are still playing volleyball. They also have a better chance of coming to watch me play than if I was at Maryland or Ohio State.”

Since attending at Carolina, Johnson has learned to adjust to deal with the atmosphere of college life. Her toughest challenge is time management as she juggles class, practice, and study, and learning the campus.

The campus is very big and you have to learn it or you will get lost. That is one thing that I have been trying to adjust to. Another thing is the difference of high school volleyball game to the NCAA Division I game,” Johnson said. “When I started playing volleyball I didn’t think I would make it this far to play for a Division I team but I am happy to make it this far and I am ready to help make the South Carolina volleyball team one of the best teams in the nation.”

Being at South Carolina is something Johnson didn’t expect to happen but she did it because she was only about 30 miles away to see the family and friends back home and you know what they say about home: home is where the heart is.