The Flintridge community endured yet another tremendous loss over winter break when Jenna Johnson, 22, a varsity soccer assistant coach, died suddenly on Sunday, Dec. 18, one week before Christmas.
Johnson was training for a marathon with her running partner when she passed out and collapsed. She was taken to Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Burbank, but doctors were unable to revive her.
Johnson was a graduate of the University of Miami, where she captained the soccer team. She met Frank Pace, FSHA’s varsity soccer co-head coach, last July while she was playing for a spot on the United States National Select Soccer Team.
She earned that position and after their game against Australia, Pace offered her an internship that she had asked him about at Warner Brother’s Studio. He told her she was “also going to help [him] coach [his] high school soccer team.” She became a production assistant on the George Lopez show and began coaching early in January of 2005.
Administrative Assistant Annie Beltran, who began with her job as an assistant varsity coach the same year, “hit it off right away” with Johnson.
“I think that our personalities complimented each other well,” said Miss Beltran, “I was always a little bit quieter, but she wasn’t afraid to be tough on the girls.”
The loss of Johnson was hard for the team to deal with so soon after alum Jessica Hanson passed away last September.
“Jenna was really comforting and helpful after the loss of my good friend Jessica,” remembers Miss Beltran.
Johnson and Hanson played soccer together on the U.S. National Select Soccer Team this past July. Not only were they teammates, but they were also close friends.
Johnson helped put together the inaugural Big Toe Holiday Festival, a soccer tournament hosted by Sacred Heart in December. The MVP award was in Hanson’s name and was presented to Johnson’s parents following the final. They attended the tournament just two days after their daughter’s death.
“You could definitely say that Jenna made her mark on the tournament. She put together the program remembering Jessica,” said Miss Beltran.
“Jenna made us work hard and because of that she earned our respect. We won games because she motivated us,” said Maddie Gonzalez ‘07. “She always told us to enjoy the game and never stop loving soccer.”
“[Jenna] became their role model… she drove and pushed, wheedled and needled them to reach their full potential,” said Coach Pace.
“She was such an inspiration to the whole team she was hysterical even though she got tough she had a great sense of humor,” said Miss Beltran.
--Courtesy, Flintridge Sacret Heart Academy