Johannsen to continue soccer career in Kansas

Alex Eisen/MDN Bishop Ryan's JJ Johannsen, playing for Minot High, dribbles the ball around a Century defender in the West Region championship game played earlier this fall in Bismarck. Johannsen signed Wednesday to continue his soccer career at Benedictine College in Kansas.

The yellow brick road is delivering Bishop Ryan senior JJ Johannsen to Kansas.

The first team all-state striker, who played on Minot High’s boys soccer team, signed his national letter of intent Wednesday to play collegiate soccer at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

“This has been my goal since I was little,” Johannsen said. “I have always dreamed about playing college soccer and playing past high school in any way. So, to finally have that come true and being able to sign and know that I will be able to play next year is super exciting.”

Wearing the captain’s armband, Johannsen led the Magicians to a fifth-place finish at the state soccer tournament this fall. He netted 12 goals and had four assists on the season.

“I’m going to remember my friends,” he said. “I have been playing with the same guys since I was like eight years old. To play with somebody other than them is going to be super different.”

Johannsen was also a part of Bishop Ryan’s football team being the kicker, punter, a receiver and a defensive back. Staying busy, Johannsen is also currently gearing up for the Class B state wrestling tournament with the Lions.

He will take his strength, speed and creativity down to unfamiliar Kansas.

“Not much. I went and visited there in the fall and that’s about all I know about it,” Johannsen said about Kansas as a state. “I really like that (Benedictine) is a strong Catholic college. My faith is important to me. I like the team a lot. I got to play with them and I think I would fit in well. I also get along really well with the coach. He is young, a great guy and I think he is going to take the program really far.”

Staying in touch got Johannsen this opportunity.

“During the summer I went to a camp in Florida and I met the Benedictine coach there,” he said. “I didn’t really think much of it. Then, in the fall during the high school season, I gave him a call and things kind of went from there. I went on a visit and I really liked everything.”

Benedictine College is in the NAIA and a part of the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC). The Ravens went 14-3-2 last season, but suffered a shootout defeat in the HAAC Tournament quarterfinals to end their season abruptly.

“I’m anxious, nervous and it’s scary at the same time,” Johannsen said about leaving Minot. “It’s a small town, so moving out is kind of weird. Especially when you move far away, like all the way to Kansas. It might be kind of crazy, but I’m excited for it and I think I’m ready.”

Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.