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Michigan native Aya Johnson navigates career as Golf Channel producer

Aya Johnson was a part of a crew that produced 50 hours of programming for the NBC Sports Group’s Golf Channel in the course of the week of the latest Masters Tournament.

She loved each minute.

“During weeks like that it’s a lot of time working, but I enjoyed it and I have a job and a career that I love,” she mentioned.

Johnson, 25, the 2017 Michigan Women’s Amateur Champion from North Muskegon and former University of Wisconsin golfer, thought for a number of years that she needed to be an orthodontist.

Then alongside her journey, together with going via a again damage that sidelined her from golf for 2 years throughout her faculty career, and a comeback that included successful the Michigan Amateur, she transitioned to wanting a strategy to keep within the sport.

“I didn’t want to be a professional golfer – the back problems were part of that – but I wanted to have a career in golf and that led me to working in sports media,” she mentioned. “I took a few media classes and loved it.”

Her present place is as an assistant producer for the NBC Sports Group’s Golf Channel. She works primarily in a graphics manufacturing position, together with leaderboards, statistics and extra, however along with her golf data she can also be known as on for different off-air duties like enhancing broadcast highlights.

“I know I still want to be golf media 10 years from now, but right now I’m still exploring if I will continue to be part of producing, or shift to on-air work,” she mentioned. “I do know I want to be part of the diversity of sports media as an Asian woman. I feel that’s important.”

Her mom, Nina, a radiation oncologist, immigrated from Japan at age seven, and met Aya’s father Trip, a Muskegon businessman and golfer, years later in Ann Arbor.

Aya is energetic on social media, and Twitter followers of hers know that her mom is an enormous fan of Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama. She shared tweets via the Masters concerning her mom’s emotional trip as a tv watcher, and she or he liked the airport photograph of Matsuyama that made social media rounds on Monday following the Masters.

“I thought that was just great with the green jacket on the chair,” she mentioned. “In Japan Hideki is just huge, bigger than Tiger Woods. It’s so great for golf that he won, and for Asians who golf, too.”

Aya was born in Ann Arbor, however grew up in North Muskegon, went to North Muskegon High School and performed highschool golf as a part of a cooperative crew at Muskegon Catholic Central High. She was a standout on the junior stage, received the Michigan Junior Girls State Amateur in 2010, was prep golf’s Miss Golf in Michigan in 2012 and received the Division 4 particular person title. She additionally performed within the Girls Junior PGA Championship and picked Wisconsin from a closing three collegiate packages that additionally included the University of Michigan and Notre Dame.

“Wisconsin was in a town between two lakes, and it felt like home and I was immediately comfortable there even though it was the school farthest from home,” she mentioned. “I wanted to be part of a big sports family, and it had that, too. It was just the right fit.”

She progressed, ever enhancing within the golf program via her first two seasons however was lifting weights on campus in March of 2015 and suffered a herniated disc in her decrease again. She was 19 and medical doctors mentioned the preliminary plan of action ought to be rehabilitation and nerve root injections. After six months with ache, left leg numbness, steadiness and sleep points it was decided surgical procedure was required. She was informed it was probably she wouldn’t have the ability to play golf once more.

Aya Johnson, Michigan

Aya Johnson, Michigan

Aya Johnson (Golf Association of Michigan)

With restoration time she missed two golf seasons however mounted a comeback, together with a swing change with a shorter takeaway and an extended handle-putter to ease stress on the again. She returned for a season as a starter and was one of many high scorers on the crew. In the following two summers she received the Michigan Women’s Amateur, and twice certified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

With an damage waiver she might have performed yet another 12 months at Wisconsin, however a producer job with the previous Morning Drive present got here alongside on the Golf Channel, then based mostly in Orlando, Florida.

“I had my degree and it was a great opportunity,” she mentioned.

She isn’t certain if her first two years within the sports activities media trade are similar to these of others as a result of a lot of it has been working within the context of a worldwide pandemic. When the Golf Channel grew to become a part of NBC Sports she moved from Orlando to Stamford, Conn., the place the NBC Sports Group is situated. She feels golf has helped her to discover a career she loves, but additionally way more.

“I’ve me so many people and some of my closest friends through golf, playing in GAM and AJGA tournaments, playing at Wisconsin, meeting girls from other schools,” she mentioned. “Plus golf gives my family something to bond over. We all love watching golf and talking about it. Mom is playing it now. She used to think it was easy and couldn’t understand how I could miss a short putt or make a bad shot. She’s learning now how hard the game is to play.”

Aya plans to maintain enjoying, partially as a result of it’s an outlet for an individual who describes herself as aggressive in the whole lot. She got here residence to Michigan final summer time whereas working remotely in the course of the pandemic and teed it up at her household’s residence course, Muskegon Country Club, within the GAM Women’s Championship. Her father caddied, and mother adopted within the gallery as all the time.

“I think it helps me working in golf to know the game, play the game, stay connected to it, stay competitive, and well, it’s just me,” she mentioned. “I want to keep beating my coworkers. You know me, I have to be the best player in the office.”

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