In this undated photo, Janiece Johnson (standing, right) and fellow Lady Raiders work with area kids in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo submitted)
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- MTSU women’s basketball senior center Janiece Johnson has played an important role this season helping the Lady Raiders head into conference play following a winning season.
Yet, her biggest contribution has been off the court.
Recently, Johnson was named a nominee to the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team.
Johnson said she considers the nomination a big honor.
“It means a lot to me,” Johnson said. “It’s not about the awards. I just think about giving back and helping out.”
The Washington, D.C., native has been working in the community with several different local organizations, including the Hometown Huddle. Through the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties initiative, she works with area students preparing for the program’s reading day.
She has also helped out with the Rutherford County Special Olympics as a coach and at Greenhouse Ministries, where she volunteers her time helping people get prepared to take GED tests.
Johnson said she believes it is important to assist those who need it the most.
“I just enjoy helping other people,” Johnson said. “Growing up, I had so many people that helped me. … I just enjoy getting out and learning from other people. You never know who you might meet and see what they are going through. The learning part helps me out.”
Other members of the Lady Raiders program have taken notice of Johnson’s work in the community, including head coach Rick Insell.
Insell said he is proud of Johnson’s commitment to the community.
“All of our kids work in the community, but Johnson is special,” Insell said. “This is what she wants to do, and when she graduates, she wants to go back to Washington, D.C., and help the kids out there. Johnson is the first one to volunteer, and she is always there and ready to volunteer.”
Johnson said she wants to “help kids with tutoring and other activities to get them off the streets because where I grew up it was a bad environment.”
She is one of 84 nominees for the Good Works team, which includes two others from Conference USA.
The athletes were selected by coaches and other members of the staff on behalf of their school.
A special panel, which includes former Lady Vol and current member of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, Tamika Catchings, will select 10 members to the 2014 Good Works Team in February. Five of the members will be from the Division I level, while the other five will come from Division II, III and the NAIA levels.
According to a press release, the WBCA Good Works Team honors players who represent the sport’s finest in the areas of leadership and charitable achievements among their peers.
The athletes who are chosen will be invited by the Allstate Insurance Company to the 2014 Women’s Final Four in Nashville, which will include participating in a community project there.