As you may have heard – Drake Johnson – all star cheerleading’s favorite Ivy League student hopped back on the CALI train.
If you know anything about geography, you may realize that Livermore, California and Boston, Massachusetts aren’t exactly next door to one another. So when we found out that the Harvard student was back on Black Ops for the Cheerleading Worlds 2019, we had to get the full scoop.
What Drake Has Been Up To
Long story short, you’ll see Drake back on the mat this weekend fighting for his third World Champion title with the California All Stars Black Ops.
Long story long, Drake is currently finishing his freshman year at Harvard where he’s kept busy doing everything from reading tons of books to working with the African American Research Center to helping the Athletic Department to joining the Undergraduate Council — which aids with things like health and wellness and the student experience. He’s obviously the type of guy who likes to stay busy, and it sounds like that isn’t stopping anytime soon.
When he moved out to the East Coast, he thought about cheering at a nearby gym, but never gave it too much consideration. He decided to focus on school-related activities for his first semester, and honestly thought he would never go back to competitive cheerleading.
Drake described his experience at Harvard so far as a rollercoaster. He’s a first generation college student who is navigating life in a new city thousands of miles from home. He grew up in the public school education system and has been adjusting to the high-caliber environment that Harvard is known for. He said it’s not uncommon to walk into class and overhear people talking about things he’s literally never heard of before.
Of course, one of the first questions we asked was if he decided on a major. At Harvard, their major equivalent is called a concentration, and they don’t declare until their Sophomore year. But, Drake is pretty confident he will declare a joint concentration in Government and African American Studies.
While his schedule first semester was jam packed, his second semester has been a tad quieter as he decides what is and isn’t worth his time – which brings us to cheerleading.
Back to The California All Stars
Originally, Drake asked Neda (one of CALI’s coaches) to fill in on Black Ops earlier in the season and she told him no. He DID end up competing on Ghost Recon over his winter break when they were competing for their bid to Worlds – but he knew he was just going to be a filler for the weekend.
But just a few weeks ago, she called him back up and asked if he’d be willing to compete with Black Ops at Worlds. He jumped at the chance and they figured out a (ridiculous) schedule that would allow him to learn the routine and practice with the team in the last three weeks before the event.
His first practice with the team was April 11th, and we chatted Monday, April 15th after he took a red eye from the Bay Area to Boston for another set of weekend practices. And to understand what a crazy flight that is, he left California at 6:42PM on Sunday, had a layover in Utah, and landed in Boston at 6:20AM – nine hours of travel. And then had to go to classes the rest of the day. Wild.
Drake flew back to California on the 18th, will fly to Boston for one day, and then fly to Orlando to compete at Worlds for the weekend. And THEN, he will be back in Boston by Monday the 29th for his last three days of classes.
I’m exhausted writing about it, let alone living it.
Drake’s Tips for Keeping It All Together
As an elite cheerleader and an Ivy League student, Drake knows a little something about staying motivated when the going gets tough. We asked him for his top tips for persevering during the busiest times of the season and year.
His number one piece of advice is to stay mentally disciplined. You know you’re not going to want to do things. You’re going to be tired and unmotivated, but before you even reach that point, you need to decide you’re going to get the work done. Once you decide to be consistent and take action, it makes moving forward easier.
His second piece of advice is to use a calendar – his tool of choice is Google calendar. He schedules his entire life into it so that he wakes up every morning and everything he has to do for the day is right there, notifying him when it’s time to go.
Where to Find Drake
He welcomes anyone who has questions about moving away from home for the first time, being a first generation / low income college student, or being a minority at a college institution, to reach out to him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.