Ryan Johnson: Baseball and Science

Ryan Johnston has very little spare time. A talented college athlete and an equally serious student, he devotes countless hours to keep his RBIs high and his GPA even higher.

The Edmond resident started playing baseball at age five. He played in middle school, winning the USSSA National Little League Championship at age 14, and in high school, including one year with the Edmond Memorial High School Bulldogs. He went on to play for Oklahoma Christian University and he currently plays first base for Hillsdale Baptist University in Moore.

Johnston credits his dad for inspiring his love of baseball. “He is a huge baseball fan and he’s always had me out practicing; I love playing,” he says.

His team, the Saints, is highly-ranked in Christian Division-II baseball, and recently competed in the NCCAA National Championship Tournament in Wakeland, Florida. The Saints made it all the way to the championship round, and were leading the number one-ranked Southwestern University Fire in the very last inning 3-0; but at the last moment, the Fire scored four runs for a win and brought the final score to 4-3. Though it was a bitter defeat, at least the Fire were formidable opponents. The Florida team has won the last three championships in a row.

In the tournament, Johnston scored 4 runs and had 4 runs batted in. He also went 7 for 14, which means that after 14 times at bat, he hit the ball 7 times, giving him a .500 batting average, topping lifetime averages of legendary sluggers like Ty Cobb (.366), Babe Ruth (.342) and Hank Aaron (.305).

Even though his athletic statistics are impressive, more important to Johnston than winning championships is getting into medical school. A junior academically, but classified as a sophomore athletically, he has his sights set on earning a degree in biology that will launch him into the medical field.

“First, I really enjoy helping people, but secondly, I love science and things of that nature,” he explains.

Johnston’s favorite classes cover cell biology and botany, and in spite of the countless hours of studying required to excel at such subjects, he somehow works in 5-10 hours of baseball practice weekly. On top of that, he remains involved in his community, attending the LifeChurch.tv Edmond campus and occasionally making time for friends.

“It’s pretty tough. It really cuts into any kind of social life you’d want to have. I try to put school first, and if I have free time I’ll go out and practice,” he admits.

His persistent studying seems to have paid off. His grades are high, and in the fall 2007 semester he made straight A’s, in spite of tough courses. He considers that achievement to be his greatest academic victory. In the sports arena, he cites his first home run, at age 10, as his greatest victory. “It was a pretty amazing feeling.”

Johnston was injured in 2004 when he damaged his plica, a thin wall of fibrous tissue in the knee. It became inflamed and made it difficult for him to swing a bat. He’s had surgery and cortisone shots to numb the pain, but the effects still linger.

As for the future, Johnston has his eyes set on medical school at the University of Oklahoma, but he’s not sure which path in medicine he would like to take. There are many areas of study open to students in the medical field. He could easily wind up operating on others with similar sports injuries one day, or delve into countless other similar opportunities. In the meantime, he plans to enroll in a few science classes at the University of Central Oklahoma.

In spite of problems with his knee, Johnston can rest assured that whatever his future holds, he will be eagerly watched and actively supported by family, friends and fellow Oklahomans.

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