AURORA, Ont. – Midfielder Alistair Johnston believes staying in shape, and a positive mental mindset are the keys to getting through the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Major League Soccer rookie, who was drafted 11th overall by the expansion Nashville FC, is trying to keep a balance in his daily life, and has various hobbies including cooking and art to take his mind off the delayed season.
Johnston believes that people shouldn’t get into a routine where they are unproductive, stressing the importance of trying new things and challenging yourself.
“What I would say to people trying to keep a positive mental health during this is do things that make you happy but don’t do them for four hours straight,” says the Aurora, Ont. native. “Switch it up and do different things and constantly try to learn new things.”
The former Wake Forest University Demon Deacon thinks that everything in moderation is the key to life and it’s essential to not get addicted to one thing.
“ I think a lot of guys just stick to one thing and they do it all day,” said Johnston.
The Pandemic has been difficult for Drake University Bulldogs goalkeeper Jared Brown. During his last pre-season game last fall the then-Sophmore dislocated his AC joint in the right shoulder, fractured his scapula, got a concussion and tore his labrum all in one play.
“So I missed the fall season and I was out indefinitely,” said Brown. “I was looking forward to spring then I heard the season was suspended, so going pretty much a year without the team has been hard.”
Despite Brown’s injury riddled fall season he too has tried to remain positive.
“It’s definitely hard right now but honestly I just need to stay focused on the goals I’ve set for myself,” said Brown, on the phone from the Iowa campus. “Whether that’s staying super fit and trying to get my body and mind in the best possible space I can be in, I’m out running and training everyday.”
Meanwhile, Johnston’s rookie season came to a halt when COVID-19 spread across the United States.
“Yeah – for me getting drafted the first thing I wanted to do was prove to my teammates and coaches that I belong here but obviously COVID-19 has postponed that,” he said.
The former Vaughan Azzurri product admitted that it was disappointing to not get his first professional game under his belt but he continues to remain positive.
“This is not exactly how I pictured my rookie season but at the same time I need to stay positive and know that my time is going to come.”
One positive thing that Johnston can take from this situation is healing some nagging injuries.
He spent two years at St. John’s University and two years at Wake Forest University where he accumulated 16 goals as a midfielder. Johnston transferred to Wake Forest because the ACC conference is the best in the United States.
” I wanted to further challenge myself both on and off the field and play against the best players in college soccer,” said the former Richmond Hill Raider.
After talking with the head coach of Wake Forest’s soccer team Bobby Muuss he was completely sold.
” I knew it was the place I wanted to be because they were going to push me and make me earn everything that I wanted,” he said.
In 2019, Wake Forest was in the Final Four Tournament, and Johnston played his last game on Dec.15 and then had a short three week break before jumping into the next season.
“It’s been nice to get some yoga and stretching in, stuff light on my joints to heal some things, so hopefully I’ll come back feeling a 110 per cent ready to go,”he said.
This motivates him to come back and perform at a level higher then he did his last season with Wake Forest.
Staying in shape is the 21-year-old’s primary focus during this pandemic.
“It has been a pain trying to stay in shape during the pandemic,” he said. “They shut down my apartment gym but I have been driving over to the trails and I get in 10 kilometers runs four times a week.”
The Vaughan SC star also heads over to Vanderbilt University, which is just down the road from his apartment. Johnston and his roommate will do some training sessions on the field at the university.
“The team just delivered stationary bikes for all of us, I have two of those in my apartment so we’ll workout on those,” he said.