Weatherford recent senior (now, graduate) Taylor “TJ” Johnson had eyes on a few junior colleges while making plans to pursue studies in physical therapy while also extending his baseball career. He was then diverted to a school close by — one traveling well under his radar until he received a suggestion from a friend. Pursuing the lead was time well spent, and he hopes to spend his next few years, there.
With his parents, Weatherford baseball coaches Terry Massey and Jason Lee, and WISD Athletic Director Richard Scoggin in attendance at The Outback, Johnson celebrated his letter-of-intent signing to attend and play baseball at the University of Dallas, last week.
“I have a friend who mentioned the school to me, and said you really had to have good grades to get in,” Johnson said. “So, I called them up and the coach was interested, so we set up a visit.
“I had a quick tryout by myself and the coaches wanted me to spend the night so I could meet the team. They wanted to make sure I was comfortable with the team.”
The due diligence of the U of D coaches included assurance the mix with the team was good, as Johnson’s varsity numbers pretty much spoke for themselves.
After further dialogue with the coaching staff, then a few more meetings around, basically, the entire school, Johnson was accepted and received a scholarship.
“The whole interview process was a good experience, and really a lot of fun for me,” he said. “The coach told me he was excited about me coming to U of D and playing at the catcher position.”
With a junior and a senior also vying for the catcher’s position next fall, Taylor is not content to wait his turn in the Crusaders roster when the competition for the starting spot begins in earnest... even the suggestion is rejected.
“No, I want to play catcher this fall,” he said.
A private, independent Catholic university, the University of Dallas, located in Irving, has multiple campuses in its system, with one of the locations in Rome. And not the Texas version, either. But the one that sits aside the Mediterranean Sea. Entering his sophomore year, Taylor will get the opportunity to pursue studies at the Rome campus in the fall semester and be back in time for baseball in Texas.
And though most of his studies will be in Texas, Johnson was open to spending the next few years in any direction, whatever the distance.
“The location of [U of D] is fine with me,” he said. “I did want to get away to another area to go to school and Dallas is just an hour away. But if the opportunity would have been up in Minnesota or somewhere, I still would have gone.
“I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to play and get my education.”
When considering colleges, part of TJ’s criteria was to assure disciplines in physical therapy. He has had first-hand experience in the value of the profession.
“I have had a few injuries while playing sports,” he said, “and the people who helped get me through the injuries and rehab really influenced my decision to pursue physical therapy as a career.”
TJ attributes a good deal of his baseball success and conditioning, mental and physical, to the rigors of WHS head coach Terry Massey’s workouts and teachings. The former Roo contends that going through the workouts, even as tough as they are, get one prepared for baseball at the next step. Add a little heart, he says, and you’re ready.