Two-time State Champion and FPD alum Maggie Johnston ’16 is well known for her talents throwing shot put and discus. However, her sights have recently shifted to completing a law degree at Samford University and pursuing a career in immigration law. Likewise, the track arena isn’t too far in the rearview mirror as Maggie continues to serve as a mentor for up-and-coming high school athletes, including FPD’s own Claire Harrison ’22, who will also join Samford this fall.
Maggie’s awards for the Bulldogs at Samford University include:
- 2019 SoCon Championship Meet Discus Record
- 2020 SoCon Indoor Champion Weight Throw
- 2020 SoCon Indoor 2nd Place Shot Put, 2021 SoCon Champion Shot Put
- 2021 SoCon Champion Discus Throw
- 2021 SoCon 3rd Place Hammer Throw
Now in law school, Maggie was recently selected as Associate Editor for the American Journal of Trial Advocacy. In the community, Maggie volunteers as a housing navigator for Legal Services of Alabama to help individuals and tenants apply for emergency rental funds.
We wanted to touch with Maggie as she reflects on her athletic career and learn more about her plans for the future.
Q: How does it feel to have completed your collegiate career in athletics?
Maggie: I dedicated nearly a decade of my life to track and field and it was a big part of who I was as a person. Throwing discus was the first thing I ever felt I was truly good at, so finally stepping away from it is undeniably difficult. However, it is also refreshing to start this new chapter of my life. Such a large portion of my life was geared towards being the best athlete I could possibly be, but now I can direct my focus towards being the best (future) lawyer I can be. I now have the time to get more involved in school and the community and prepare for my legal career.
Q: What would you like to say to some of your coaches who helped you along the way?
Maggie: I could go on and on about the incredible coaches that helped me along the way, and I would be remiss if I did not mention them by name: April Cassel, Dave Sparrow, Josh Trieste, Chris Howard, Rod Tiffin, David Clyburn, and my dad, Scott Johnston. Each of these individuals had a hand in my athletic development, but more importantly, they helped shape me into the woman I am today.
So, what I would say to them is: “From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for seeing the potential in me, thank you for your patience, kindness, and commitment to my improvement. Your impact on my life reaches far beyond the throwing circle and I am eternally grateful for that.”
Q: Why do you believe it’s important to give back to younger athletes and serve as a mentor?
Maggie: I spent a lot of time learning the ins and out of the throwing events, so it is nice to know that my knowledge can be used to help younger athletes develop their throwing skills. Now that I am no longer competing, I enjoy the opportunities to stay in the sport through these lessons and cheering them on.
I think one of the best things I can do as a former track and field athlete is reach back and help others learn more about the sport. If I can teach one high schooler the technical elements of a throw, then they can help their teammates, too, and the cycle of teaching and learning continues.
Q: How do you feel your foundation at FPD helped you in college?
Maggie: I think the greatest contribution it made to my life was showing how important it is to be encouraged, loved, and supported. To this day, my former teachers and coaches at FPD are some of my biggest encouragers. Having such kind, loving teachers and coaches made a lasting impression on my life. My coaches constantly pushed me to be the best athlete I could be, and my teachers were always a great source of encouragement and support.
Q: What inspired you to pursue immigration law?
Maggie: In undergrad, I double majored in Communication Studies and Spanish. While studying Spanish, I became aware of how misunderstood the immigrant community in the United States is. The immigration system in the United States is complex, so I want to work with immigrants to help them navigate the system and achieve legal residence or citizenship and hopefully a better life. I want to pursue a career where I can help individuals that are often marginalized, neglected, or misunderstood in a meaningful way. A career in immigration law would provide countless opportunities for me to do just that.
Q: Any advice for this year’s senior class as they start finalizing college decisions?
Maggie: This question hits quite close to home considering just a little over a year ago I was in the process of deciding where I was going to attend law school. My best piece of advice is: don’t stress (too much). I can confidently say that wherever you end up, it’s exactly where you’re supposed to be.
God has proved time and time again in my life that He has a plan for me that is far greater than anything I could ever formulate myself. I never planned on staying at Samford for three more years. I was going to go to law school in Georgia, but when the pandemic canceled my last season of track and field, my plans went out the window. Fast-forward a year and a half later, and I can confidently say that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.