Berit Johnson Among Nominees for ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year Award

Berit Johnson and a young fan. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Berit Johnson and a young fan. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Senior Forward Excels in Classroom, Active in Community Service

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Senior forward Berit Johnson (Wayzata, Minn./The Blake School) is among 10 nominees for ECAC Hockey's Student-Athlete of the Year award, the conference announced Wednesday. Johnson earned the nomination, which requires a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.50, through hard work both on and off the ice. She will receive her fourth ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team selection this season, a feat she has accomplished while balancing the demands of being a double major at Yale (economics and history) while also playing hockey.

Also an AWHCA All-Academic Team honoree each of the past two years, Johnson has found numerous ways to contribute to her community both in New Haven and back home in Minnesota. She has been a consistent contributor for the Bulldogs on the ice, switching back and forth between defense and forward over her career based on what the team needed at the time. This season she saw regular action as a forward on Yale's second line. For her career she has played in 116 out of a possible 120 games, totaling 25 points on six goals and 19 assists.

Johnson's academic work includes a senior essay on the destruction, rebuilding and consecration of the United Kingdom's Coventry Cathedral, one of three Cathedrals Coventry has had in the last 1,000 years. On the night of Nov. 14, 1940, the city was devastated by bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe, and the Cathedral burned with the city. The decision to rebuild "would not be an act of defiance, but rather a sign of faith, trust and hope for the future of the world," in the words of the Cathedral's web site. Johnson's work included traveling to the U.K. for research in the summer of 2009 and over winter break. Working with her essay advisor Jay Winter, Yale's Charles J. Stille Professor of History, she is focusing on the issues tied up with the memorialization of war while also telling the story of the rebuilding.

Johnson is also extremely interested in community service. Her contributions to the New Haven area began in her freshman year, when she participated in Yale's Freshman Day of Service. She has also been a regular participant in Yale's annual "Relay for Life" American Cancer Society fund-raiser since her freshman year, and served on the Food and Beverage Committee for that event as a sophomore. That same year she also led a group trip to work on a nearby home as part of Freshman Day of Service and helped coach a Yale Youth Hockey mite team. She also served as a tutor at a New Haven elementary school her sophomore year and provided counseling to disadvantaged youths at a local high school interested in applying to college her junior year.  She is now her team's liaison for the Yale Athletics Department's Thomas W. Ford '42 Community Outreach Program, coordinating activities such as buying holiday gifts for disadvantaged families, volunteering at a shelter, and teaching sports skills to local youths as part of Yale Athletics' annual "Youth Days".

Johnson's community service work has extended well beyond New Haven as well. In the summer of 2006, she helped build a home for a disadvantaged family in Minneapolis through Habitat for Humanity. She spent the summer of 2007 with Lutheran Social Service, the largest statewide non-profit social service organization in Minnesota. There, she researched the financial counseling regulations in states throughout the U.S. as part of an effort by Lutheran Social Services to provide financial counseling outside of Minnesota. She also spent the summer of 2008 in Minnesota, this time working for MicroGrants. MicroGrants is a non-profit organization that provides grants to disadvantaged individuals who are facing obstacles but are motivated to improve their economic status and are viewed as "people of potential". Johnson worked as a program evaluator, interviewing grant recipients and summarizing their experiences. Her work telling their stories was recently published in the book MicroGrants: It's Working.

Johnson's teammates tabbed her as both the smartest and the funniest player on the team in a mid-season survey two years ago. She is regarded as one of the team's leaders, and when her teammate Mandi Schwartz was diagnosed with leukemia last year she played a key role in coordinating the team's response, including setting up a web site for Schwartz to provide updates on her condition to family and friends as she received chemotherapy back home in Saskatchewan.

Johnson's sister, Kelsey Johnson '07, played forward for the Bulldogs and was a finalist for the inaugural ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year Award in 2007. Danielle Kozlowski '09 was a finalist each of the past two seasons, making Yale the only school with a finalist in each of the award's three years.

The Johnson sisters also played together at The Blake School in Minnesota, and Berit was selected to attend the U.S. Junior National Development Camp four times. She was elected to the Cum Laude Honor Society in high school and was also a National Merit Finalist and Scholarship winner. She won Blake's Harvard Trophy as the school's top student-athlete, and won the French Award as the outstanding senior student. She was first in her class in cumulative GPA.

Johnson recently accepted a job as an associate product manager at a data storage company in Minnesota.

ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year Nominees

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity