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Elite Goalie, Ashleigh Johnson Chooses Princeton Over West Coast Schools

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Apparently people are making a huge deal that Miami (Fla.) Ransom Everglades High goalie Ashleigh Johnson chose to continue her water polo career with the Princeton Tigers rather than head to the West Coast. The article in question comes from Yahoo's Prep Rally blog with this title: Top water polo goalie turns down Olympic prospects for Princeton.

Johnson was a member of the 2011 United States Youth National team, and some people are feeling that by staying on the East Coast she will have less of a chance to earn a spot on the 2016 United States Olympic squad.

First off, that is just a dumb blanket statement to make since the current goalie for the women't national team is Betsey Armstrong who is from Ann Arbor, Mich., and played college water polo with the Michigan Wolverines. So there is a precedent for Johnson's situation.

There is no doubt that Johnson has the ability to compete with the best of the best, in addition to being on the 2011 youth national team she was offered a scholarship with UCLA, Southern Cal, San Diego State and UC Irvine. Choosing to take a scholarship offer with Princeton over those schools -- especially UCLA -- had to be a tough choice.

Being out on the East Coast is not going to hinder her growth, she can still be a part of the national team circuit if she makes the team. Also, it is not like she is going to low-level East Coast team, Princeton is the defending CWPA champions which earned them a bid to the NCAA champions where Princeton finished sixth place.

The teams on the East Coast are getting better and better with teams like Hartwick, Indiana, Michigan, Brown and even the MAAC champion is close to the top of the CWPA teams. These teams will provide ample competition to get better, plus Princeton heads to California at least once a year to gauge themselves against the best in the NCAA.

One poignant quote about Johnson's decision comes from her future college head coach:

"Water polo is not going to pay your bills -- it's that degree," [Princeton water polo coach Luis] Nicolao says. "Most of our Olympians at Princeton are postgraduate, and there's no question Ashleigh has the ability."

She could eventually play overseas but that does not play exceptionally well for a pro athlete, and that Princeton education trumps all that her degree will always be there to use all her life.

Besides education, Johnson said she chose Princeton because she did not water polo to be her only focus:

"I chose Princeton because I want to be a doctor and I want to be challenged academically. I don't want my whole life to be water polo." [...]

"I still want to play water polo (in college)," says Johnson, who is expected to be Princeton's starting goalie as a freshman. "But if I went to a West Coast school, I think water polo would have turned out to be my major."

Recruiting gets scrutinized for basketball and football, but rarely does it come into play for water polo, but it is hard to argue that this was not the right choice for Johnson.

Here are some highlights of Johnson:


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