Serra junior Saniaya Johnson has experience playing basketball, track and field, volleyball, and soccer (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

Serra junior Saniaya Johnson competed in track and field, basketball, volleyball and soccer in her youth. She felt that basketball is her calling.

“It calms me down sometimes,” Johnson said.

Johnson enjoyed the sisterhood of teammates and building friendships. Her track background assisted her on the hardwood.

“It started building up my stamina and my endurance,” Johnson said. “I was able to see the difference what I did in ninth grade to when I went into tenth grade.”

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Along with playing for Serra, Johnson competes for Rosecrans Spark travel ball team. A challenge for her was when her high school teammate’s travel ball team beat hers in the championship round of a tournament.

“It was like do they take contact and bump people with your body or sit there and get scored on,” Johnson said. “I’m not gonna let nobody score on me, that’s out.”

Despite the loss, she was proud that her and her teammates made it that far.

The moments in basketball that she cherished the most were winning games.

“The proudest moment is probably being able to win a game with my teammates,” Johnson said. “Knowing that we fought hard and that we played hard.”

Being a student athlete shows how Johnson excels in all her obligations.

“It shows how I can do business in school and outside of school, on that court,” Johnson said. “I can show my little brother that if you want to be something, you can still be a student athlete. You can be a 4.0 student in the classroom and then a five-star player.”

As a freshman, her favorite class was Biology; in tenth grade, she enjoyed Geometry. As a junior, her favorite class is religion.

“My favorite part of my religion class is being able to learn more about God and all the salvations and the sacraments,” Johnson said. “Before, I didn’t know.”

Johnson spent her freshman and sophomore years at Saint Joseph High School. There, she was a member of Leadership, the Black Student Union, and the Student Council. With the BSU, she enjoyed bringing together the Black students at her school and go on field trips.

In Student Council, she was able to help plan events and dances for the student body.

Outside of academics and athletics, Johnson helps her cousins run their respective businesses.

“My cousin has a daycare and I would babysit with her,” she said. “My other cousin, she owns a cookie place. It’s called Krumblez Cookies Co. … I would help her early mornings putting her cookies together.”

Johnson aspires to get accepted to several universities, including Clark Atlanta, Howard, Duke, and South Carolina.

“I might do a double major and double minor,” Johnson said. “I will do my double major in criminal justice and sports medicine and then my minor in mixology and business.”