Injured during football season, Johnson back as key player with Newington baseball

Published on Sunday, 13 May 2018 21:25
Written by SHELBY IAVA


NEWINGTON - Nine months ago, in the Newington football team’s second game of the season, Cooper Johnson tore his ACL.

Six months later, Johnson is back on the field, now on the baseball diamond.

The junior centerfielder made a quick recovery. Typically after having an ACL surgery, the recovery process takes anywhere from seven to nine months.

“I got injured on a kickoff return against Farmington and I was pretty devastated,” Johnson said. “I went through a couple hard patches throughout the year in order to get back, a lot of pain and a lot of hard work to get to where I am.”

Johnson was an All-State, all-conference center fielder last year as a sophomore. This year he is doing everything in his power to make sure he achieves his goal of becoming All-State for the second consecutive year.

“He worked really, really hard this year to come back,” Newington head coach Ben Alaimo said. “It takes most kids eight, 10, 12 months for most kids. He was back in about six, which was super impressive. He’s still working hard to get to 100 percent, but even Cooper at 85, 90 percent is better than most at the high school level.”

Making the decision to come back a month early was risky, but for Johnson it was just something he had to do.  

“It’s just my motivation and determination to not quit,” Johnson said. “I could have easily sat back and sit out the season, but that’s not what I wanted to do. That’s not the person I am. I like being competitive, obviously. All the people that have watched me can tell that I am competitive, but I feel that it’s just hard work and keeping my mind right to get back to where I needed to be.”

Johnson hasn’t had any major issues with his knee thus far. There have only been one or two practices that he has had to sit out because of the pain or from the joint being overworked.

But at the end of the day, Johnson isn’t thinking about his knee. The only thing on his mind is his team and the state tournament.

“Our number one goal is to win the state championship,” Johnson said. “It’s something that Newington hasn’t done since 2011. Wins and losses don’t really matter at this point, we got into the tournament and we’re going to get as many as we need to get a home game. The title is a goal that we can achieve. This is the most talented team we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

The Indians’ lineup is “dangerous,” Johnson said, and the team is finally heading in the right direction.

Friday afternoon against Hall the Indians collected their 10th win of the season. Johnson was 2-for-3 with an RBI. He also was able to score on an error by the Warriors’ right fielder.

“Everyone is clicking and we’re hot,” Johnson said. “We’re going in the right direction now, plus we have three great starting pitchers who hold us in the game no matter what. We have some pretty excellent defense and our only issue is hitting. But I think once we start putting the bat on the ball we’ll get hot and keep it going. This was supposed to be the year that we’re really good. We’re going to make a good run at the state title.”

Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Newington on Sunday, 13 May 2018 21:25. Updated: Sunday, 13 May 2018 21:27.