MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Ashleigh Johnson, the first African American to play on the U.S. Women’s Water Polo Team, grew up in South Florida, fell in love with the sport and returned from Rio with a gold medal.
Thursday, she spent time inspiring future champions.
A standing ovation greeted Johnson at Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove.
The Ransom graduate brought home Olympic gold as goal keeper of the U.S. Women’s Water Polo Team in Rio – dominating Italy in the gold medal game.
Her Olympic treasure will be kept in South Florida with her mother.
“I’m gonna give it to my mom. Let her do what she will with it. She will take care of it,” Johnson said.
It was mom who signed up Ashleigh for swimming lessons when she was little.
At Ransom, she and her teammates won four state championships. But after high school, she passed up the chance to play at powerhouse water polo teams – choosing instead to attend Princeton University where she’s entering her senior year.
“And I think it is inspirational how she was able to balance her school work and sports and attend Princeton at the same time,” said Ransom student Andrew Swerdlow.
Johnson took part in a question and answer session, and later took a selfie with the audience.
Though she did turn down a request to bite her medal.
“I bit it once, now too many people have touched it,” she said laughing.
Before returning to Princeton, Johnson will throw out the first pitch next Tuesday at Marlins Park.