For most people, a dream that requires hard work in order to obtain, isn’t a dream worth dreaming at all. The blood, sweat and tears necessary to reach the top, isn’t something that most are willing to go through. For Neiko Johnson however, hard work isn’t a burden. Ultimately it’s the contributing factor that will lead him to his dream of playing baseball in the Major Leagues.
Neiko began to appreciate baseball at an early age. “I became interested at the age of 4 when I would watch baseball with my father all the time.” Baseball was that special something that put a twinkle in young Neiko’s eyes. The thing that he knew, from that early age, he wanted to continue as he got older.
He continued to pursue his dream of playing baseball up into middle school, where he decided to give basketball a try. Although he enjoyed basketball, he decided to return his attention to just baseball. “…..I figured I was too small to play at a big D1 school, so I chose baseball which was ultimately my best sport.”
Neiko continued playing on up through high school. (The same high school that produced current Major League players Brandon and P.J. Phillips.) Whereafter he decided to take his talents to the University of Kentucky. “I wanted to play in the SEC-the best conference in the country-and UK was the only school that talked to me from the SEC.”
At UK, Johnson would make a name for himself due to his base stealing abilities. (Over a Ninety percent success rate.)
According to Neiko, if he wasn’t playing baseball he wouldn’t let the lightning fast speed that he possesses go to waste. “I would probably be an Olympic track star with the speed I have. I would be giving Usain Bolt a run for his money, haha.”
In the summers between each year of college, Neiko played in various summer leagues. Most recently, Neiko played in the Coastal Plains League, for the Edenton Steamers. During that summer for the Steamers, Johnson hit for a .307 average, which included 3 doubles, one triple, and eighteen runs batted in. He also used his speed effectively, successfully stealing 25 of his 27 steal attempts. (A 92.5 percent success rate.)
Neiko enjoyed playing in the summer leagues saying, “It was a great experience because you get a chance to play with new guys and meet new people. I have played in other summer leagues before that, so it wasn’t that different from school ball. Just not having to worry about school is a tremendous help.”
Neiko is continuing to work hard in his attempt to make it to the big leagues. When asked what it would mean to him to make it to the Majors he replied, “…..It has been my dream for years and I continue to work hard and stay dedicated so I can reach that goal. I know my mother is looking down from heaven, and I want to make her proud. She is my motivation and I continually work hard for her.”
It’s that kind of motivation, and determination to work hard to make his mom proud that makes me believe that Neiko will make it all the way, and play in the Majors one day. You don’t find guys every day who are motivated like Neiko is. His dream means so much to him. And thus, it’s hard to see him not reaching his goal, and succeeding in a baseball career.
Neiko’s advice to kids who are just starting out playing the game of baseball is, “…….to never give up and never let anyone tell you that you can’t be something. People will always hate and try to discourage you, but you have to stay dedicated and work hard no matter the circumstances. And of course listen to your parents and stay in school.”
Neiko’s advice works for anyone, of any age. Whether you want to be an athlete, a singer, or whatever, his advice is universal. The most important part being “……listen to your parents, and stay in school.” Doing just that, will ALWAYS enable you to succeed in wherever you want to take your life.
Big thanks to Neiko Johnson for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can follow Neiko on twitter @ThisIsNJJ
Just found out that Neiko Johnson signed with the Houston Astros Organization. That’s what chasing your dreams with all of your heart will do for you. Congrats Neiko.
Look what I recieved in the mail today (June 17th) from Neiko: