BREWER – While temperatures have started to drop, one Brewer volleyball player’s transition from California to Maine has been nothing but warm.
“Sometimes I still have to put in my Google Maps how to get to the school…I don’t know how to get to places at all,” said Drew Johnson, junior volleyball player for Brewer.
For the last couple months, Google Maps has been a friend to Johnson–to get her get to school, but also to guide her from Pismo Beach, Calif. all the way to Maine.
“We kind of wanted to see the leaves change, the snow, and we were deciding to kind of move this way with COVID and everything crazy. We were like, ‘Let’s just go,'” said Devon Johnson, Drew’s mom.
And so they did.
“We loaded my truck down and my moms car, and we just drove and we got to see so many new places,” Johnson said.
Places along historic Route 66, then through New Orleans, Nashville, Boston…finally settling in Brewer nearly 4,000 miles later.
And with experience playing volleyball on the competitive California circuit, Brewer Head Coach Rich Nutter’s ears perked up when Johnson and her family finally crossed over the Penobscot.
“She brings a lot of experience to the team. She doesn’t get rattled, and she gives a perspective of kind of a West Coast attribute to our team,” Nutter said.
While she may bring west coast experience on the court, she has found that her teammates bring a sense of welcome that she did not always feel in California.
“It was not welcoming at all. I was very uncomfortable, but then here, even before I came to one practice, some of the girls reached out and were like, ‘Hey you want to hang out, get to know the area, we can show you some places…’ It’s just so different,” Johnson said.
Different coast, different school–all amid a pandemic? Yes. But the real difference was the sense of belonging she felt in her new east coast life.
“I feel like community is really just coming together and they’re really welcoming of outsiders,” Johnson said.
“I got to meet her before the season and she just fits in so well…and is so easy to talk to, and she’s a great player too, so she’s awesome to have on the team,” said Mia Cattan, senior captain for the Witches.
And for Johnson, that chemistry makes all the difference as she readies for her first full season this spring.
“A big part of how I play is how comfortable I am with the team…and so here because they’re so welcoming I feel like I’m already improving.”