Sept. 5, 2011
By Jon Cooper
Recruiting can be such a tricky thing.
Like every coach, Georgia Tech Softball Head Coach Sharon Perkins’ chief concern is finding the best talent in her own back yard.
That usually means the Metro Atlanta area.
During the recent off-season, however, Perkins, a Sarasota, Fla., native, found a prized recruit by almost literally looking in what was her own back yard growing up.
It was in Sarasota that she found freshman outfielder/1B Katie Johnsky.
“It’s not that big of a town,” said Perkins, who in her playing days was known as Sharon Brander. “It’s bigger than you would think but it’s ironic that she knows a lot of the same people and played for people that I grew up with. It’s kind of interesting.”
Adding irony and interest to the situation is that Perkins attended Riverview High School, while Johnsky starred at Sarasota High School, Riverview’s archrival.
“I didn’t realize what high school she was from at first,” said Perkins. “I saw her down in Plantation, Fla., at a tournament a couple of summers ago and I noticed that the team was from my home town. I thought that was kind of neat. So I decided to watch them. I saw her and I saw her swing and saw her in the outfield and she also plays some first base. I was like, ‘Wow. That’s pretty awesome.’
“It was definitely a neat find, for sure,” she added. “She played high school for somebody that I grew up playing with and against (Sarasota H.S. Coach Kelly Wilson). So she went to my rival high school. It was pretty neat.”
Johnsky, is a left-handed hitting slugger, who was named All-Area Player of the Year by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune as a senior. She also carried a 4.0 GPA through high school, was secretary for the National Honor Society and was a reading mentor at nearby Alta Vista Elementary school.
The decision to come to Georgia Tech was a pretty easy one for Johnsky, as Tech was the Division I-A school that recruited her the hardest.
“I thought it would be so cool to play at a big D-I school, with a very well-known name, a very well-known school, and known very well for their academic program,” she said.
While making her decision, an Internet search and a chat with her coach made her aware of her hometown tie with Perkins. Once she committed to Tech Johnsky couldn’t help but run into people who knew Perkins and had a story.
“A lot of adults from my hometown knew her through school because she went to my rival high school,” she said. “My doctor’s secretary is Sharon Perkins’ sister-in-law. Then, a girl that was on my softball team, her dad coached Sharon Perkins when she was playing little league softball at one of the local leagues. A lot of people know her from my hometown. It’s kind of weird.”
The two are getting to know each other, especially now that fall practice has begun.
While they prefer to talk about Georgia Tech Softball, both know that is only a matter of time before they break into some good, old- fashioned Rams (Riverview) vs. Sailors (Sarasota High) trash talk.
“No doubt,” said Perkins. “No doubt.”
Johnsky appears well-armed for such conflict, at least based on her high school years.
“I have no idea how the competition was when she was there and who led in that,” said Johnsky. “But definitely when I was there, my high school team led in the county, led in district and led in regional for two years straight. My last year we were like 30-3, so we didn’t really lose to many teams. We beat them every time.”