Soccer tournament honors local girl |

Soccer tournament honors local girl

Tragically killed in an ATV accident in Colorado last November, Emily Johnson was a student who was interested in caring for others, and wanted to make a difference in the world.

Emily was also passionate about soccer.

Emily was a junior at Coal Ridge High School, and was loving to her family, friends, the environment, her school, her soccer team, kids nobody wanted to be friends with, and strangers. She was a fierce competitor on the soccer field, but the essence of Emily was kindness.

The Coal Ridge soccer field was officially dedicated to Emily Johnson at 10 a.m. Monday, March 2. Her parents, grandmother, great-aunt, sister, the soccer team, students and staff who wanted to attend, and many parents were at the simple ceremony.

Affectionately dubbed “The Pasture” by Emily and her teammates for the practice of spreading manure in the preseason, the soccer field will soon host a plaque reading, “The Pasture: in honor of Emily Johnson, our friend, teammate and Captain.”

To honor her memory and help reinforce the passion of soccer in others, friends and family are organizing the Play It Forward 3 v. 3 Soccer Tournament at Gates Soccer Park at Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley Campus in Glenwood Springs, the weekend of June 6-7.

For the tournament to be successful and sustainable, financial assistance is being sought from local sponsors. The tournament will be a nonprofit event, and the money raised will go toward providing scholarships for students at Coal Ridge High School. Sponsor contributions will be used to purchase tournament materials, and all funds not used in the staging of the tournament will be transferred to the scholarship fund.

The tournament committee anticipates a high level of interest in the community, and potentially high visibility for all event sponsors. All contributions are tax deductible. Please make all checks payable to Emily Johnson Fund, and payment may be sent to: Emily Johnson Play It Forward, P.O. Box 584, Silt, CO 81652.

Questions or concerns may be directed to Brian Blair, CRHS soccer coach, at (303) 332-8751 or by e-mail to

Emily chose to become an organ donor not long before her death. Emily saved five lives and improved countless others, even as she lost her own. Through Donor Alliance,, Emily gave her heart to a 9-year-old boy; a lung to a mother of two; a kidney and pancreas to a 37-year-old man with type-1 diabetes; her liver to a 7-year-old girl in Missouri; a kidney to a 29-year-old woman and her corneas to two others in South Dakota. In addition, bone and soft tissue donations saved many others across the country.

Emily became an activist at a very young age. She boycotted a national company when she read it was not environmentally sensitive to the rain forest, and founded the Planet Protectors at age 10 with her best friends. Club members would pick up trash and spread environmentalism at the grassroots level.

Emily left behind books filled with pages of affirmation of how much she loved her life. She took a stand against drug and alcohol abuse and meanness. She believed in the power of good. Known for speaking out against bullying, Emily was the first to welcome a new student and had the gift of making everyone feel like they counted with her.

One of Emily’s favorite quotes was, “Everything is OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.”

Kay Vasilakis’ “Nonprofit Spotlight” column runs every other Wednesday in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. She is a member of the Garfield County Human Services Commission. To contact her with local nonprofit news or inspirations, call 384-9118 or e-mail

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