February 21, 2007

Kelsey Johnson Named Finalist for ECAC Student-Athlete of the Year Award

Feb. 21, 2007

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Senior forward Kelsey Johnson (Wayzata, Minn.) has been named one of three finalists for the ECAC Women's Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year Award. A three-time ECAC All-Academic selection, Johnson is an economics major and is also completing her pre-med requirements. The focus of her senior thesis has her working on determining the most cost-effective way to eradicate malaria.

Each of the ECAC's 12 schools was asked to nominate a top scholar athlete who met the following requirements: a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.500 on a 4.00 scale through the fall term; participation in a minimum of 50 percent of the team's contests (33 percent of team's minutes for goaltenders); and demonstrated leadership on and off the ice (e.g., character, contributions to the community, participation/involvement in institutional groups/committees, etc.). The three finalists were selected by a committee made up of athletic department and university administrators.

Johnson has excelled both on and off the ice throughout her four years in New Haven, carrying a 3.81 grade-point average. She has also participated in numerous community service activities in New Haven, back home in Minnesota, and abroad.

Johnson, who would like to stay involved in public health after graduation, first became involved in malaria research as part of a seminar she took last year. Her senior thesis, which her faculty adviser intends to see published, indicates that vaccination may not be as cost-effective in fighting the disease as spraying or bed nets. Johnson plans to continue her malaria research in a clinical setting this summer at the University of Minnesota, where she will be working with samples from countries such as Uganda and focusing on the genetics of the disease.

While Johnson will eventually attend medical school, she plans to spend a year working with Genzyme Corporation on ways to get companies to invest in neglected diseases. She spent the summer of 2006 at Genzyme preparing a case study for the cardiovascular business on a failed clinical trial while working in the laboratory researching potential cell therapies for the treatment of heart failure.

Johnson was approved by Yale to apply for both the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships, though she did not receive them.

In addition to her academic pursuits Johnson has also done extensive community service. As a freshman and sophomore she tutored Spanish-speaking elementary students through School Volunteers for New Haven. She spent the summer after her freshman year volunteering in the endocrine surgery department at Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla in Spain, where she assisted surgeons in the operating room and helped provide post-operative care. She volunteered at the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation in the summer after her sophomore year, researching and writing reports on developments in Early Childhood Education.

As a sophomore Johnson became involved with the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, which was held at Yale for the first time that year. She has captained a Relay for Life team each of the last two years. She increased her involvement as a junior to serve as a member of both the Cancer Education Committee and the Relay for Life Food and Beverage Committee. This year she has been elected to the Colleges Against Cancer board as Publicity Chair while also serving as the chair of the Relay for Life Food and Beverage Committee and as a member of the Cancer Education Committee.

Johnson has also been a part of Yale's Thomas W. Ford '42 Community Outreach Program, which includes "Skate with the Players" events, Youth Days, and an annual toy drive for underprivileged children.

In addition to playing hockey, Johnson has also been involved with Danceworks for the past two years. This year she is serving as a Senior Class Gift Agent for her residential college at Yale, Branford.

Johnson has been a part of a renaissance on the ice for the Bulldogs, as the senior class has more wins than any in school history. During her time here Yale has set the school record for wins in a season (16, 2004-05), made its first trip to the ECAC semifinals (2004-05), snapped a 41-game losing streak against Dartmouth (a 1-0 win Feb. 3, 2006), snapped a 39-game losing streak against Harvard (a 3-2 win Nov. 12, 2004), snapped a 37-game winless streak against Brown (a 3-1 win Feb. 14, 2006) and snapped a 19-game losing streak against Northeastern (a 3-0 win Jan. 7, 2006).

Johnson won Yale's Blanning Award as the team's most improved player in 2004-05. In the middle of that year, with the team in need of defensemen, she made the switch to defense from her natural forward position. She returned to forward the following year and scored a career-high six goals. She has 17 goals and 42 points for her career. A three-year letter winner, she is one of four seniors on Yale's roster to have appeared in all 123 games over the last four seasons.

Johnson was a two-time varsity captain in hockey at The Blake School in Minneapolis and earned 14 varsity letters in swimming, hockey, softball and track & field. She graduated first in her class and was inducted into the Cum Laude Society as a junior.

Johnson's sister, Berit, is a freshman defenseman for Yale.

The winner of the award, which is in its inaugural year, will be announced at the ECAC banquet Mar. 2. The other finalists for the Student-Athlete of the Year Award are RPI's Sarah Daniel and Colgate's Tara French.

report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity