Olympic sketches: Julie Johnston


Julie Johnston in a World Cup match against Colombia, June 22, 2015. (Erich Schlegel/USA Today Sports)

In the runup to the 2016 Summer Olympics, NBC is producing a series of short, online profiles of athletes who will represent the United States.

This is a work in progress. Only a few members of the U.S. women’s team have been profiled so far. As new profiles get posted to NBC’s Rio Olympics site, I’ll link to them here.

Today: “Who is … Julie Johnston?

A few things you might not know about the 24-year-old defender:

Rob Foldy/USA TODAY Sports

Rob Foldy/USA TODAY Sports

• The Chicago Red Stars selected her with the third pick of the  crs-logo2014 National Women’s Soccer League collegiate draft.

Crystal Dunn was the No. 1 draft pick, by the Washington Spirit.

Kealia Ohai, Dunn’s teammate at the University of North Carolina, was taken second, by the Houston Dash.


• She went to Santa Clara University, where she was a First-Team All American as a sophomore. Her coach there was Jerry Smith,  Brandi Chastain’s husband.  Chastain, a 1991 graduate of Santa Clara, is a volunteer assistant coach.

• She’s engaged to Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, whom she met in college. Ertz went to Stanford, 14 miles up the highway from Santa Clara.

Zach Ertz proposed to Julie Johnston in the same baseball stadium where they met. (Twitter)

Zach Ertz proposed to Julie Johnston in Stanford’s baseball stadium, where they met. (Twitter)

• She played every minute of every game at last summer’s World Cup. At center back alongside Becky Sauerbrunn, Johnston helped logo 2015 world cupanchor the stellar U.S. defense,  which conceded just three goals in seven World Cup matches.

Johnston was a finalist for the Golden Ball, the award presented at the end of the tournament to the outstanding  player. The trophy, deservedly, went to Carli Lloyd.

• Johnston’s World Cup performance made her a global star,  but the breakthrough moment almost eluded her. Johnston didn’t make the initial roster for the World Cup qualifying tournament in the fall of 2014.  She was added at the last minute when Dunn sprained a knee.

• She took away the starting job of Christie Rampone, the team’s revered grand dame. Rampone, who turns 41 this month, has nothing but praise for her young teammate.

“Look at Julie,” she told The New York Times in May of  2015.

“She is the future of the team.”

Christie Rampone and Julie Johnston after the U.S. win over Nigeria on June 16, 2015. (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA Today Sports)

Christie Rampone and Julie Johnston, June 16, 2015. (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA Today Sports)

Earlier in this series:

Tobin Heath



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