Can someone actually sound
athletic? If anyone can, it’s soccer coach, former pro player, and Howcast star Deejae Johnson. Just listening to him talk about soccer is enough to convince you he could kick your butt on the field (oops, “pitch”) — and watching his expert how-to’s
only confirms it. Luckily he didn’t challenge us to a game when we spoke to him recently about shooting with Howcast, his passion for soccer, and his exciting work with Project Green Laces
Howcast: What was it like shooting the soccer series for Howcast?
Deejae Johnson: It was fun but tiring! I didn’t realize I had to get in shape shooting all those moves, but we had a really good time.
Howcast: Do you have a favorite trick?
DJ: I think the scissors move was the most fun because it’s so out there as one of the moves that all the best players use. And I love the joke in the video that Brazilians can do a lot of them
Howcast: We remember laughing about that!
DJ: We did all these “off the cuffs,” and I was surprised how much of it ended up in the final product. A lot of the [soccer tutorials] I had seen were very serious, and [director Christian Amundson] definitely had a vision for being playful.
Howcast: Have you ever invented your own trick? Do you have a “Deejae?”
DJ: You know it’s funny, not really. I’m a pretty team-oriented player. As a player, and even as a coach, it’s more about teamwork versus these individual moves. I also understand that the ability to do these things is the difference in a lot of these matches, and what separates the best players, like Messi and Ronaldo, is their ability to take on players and do tricks and get around the defender. It’s such a difficult skill — and it requires explosiveness and athleticism, and just being courageous to attack players. That’s really hard to teach — people either have that or they don’t.
Howcast: Speaking of “having it,” you looked like such a natural out there giving tips and pointers. Has coaching always come easily to you?
DJ: My dad was a coach and most of his friends were coaches, so my upbringing was always around coaches, whether it was soccer or other sports. Even today a lot of my friends are coaches. When you’re around soccer a lot, the dialogue becomes natural.
Howcast: You’ve had experience coaching boys and girls. Are there any differences in the ways you coach different genders?
DJ: There definitely are differences. I think girls are a little bit more collaborative. Boys are a little more aggressive with their talking. Girls are more supportive, while boys can be…oh, I don’t even know how to describe it…they can be a little bit more abusive [laughs]. But in terms of my coaching them, the game is still soccer even though the approach is different. So I try to adapt to the way that girls respond and the way that boys respond. It’s the challenge of coaching: How to reach each person in a team concept.
Howcast: Are you into any other sports?
DJ: I love to ski! Or should I say, I love to go down a mountain. So, I’ll snowboard or Telemark. Other than that, I go surfing when the water is warm. But now that I’m a dad, I also like to ride bikes with my son.
Howcast: You’re currently the Director of Product Management for Project Green Laces, which encourages people to wear green shoelaces as a sign of their support for the planet. Can you talk about that movement and your role in it?
DJ: One of my former athletes and good friends, Natalie Spilger, started the company and she asked me to be on the board as an advisor. The green laces as a product help to remind people of their pledge to help the environment. So green laces help remind me to put my coffee and tea in a mug as opposed to paper. It reminds me to bring shopping bags to the store and not use paper or plastic. There’s also an educational initiative to help kids get a feel for how they can help the environment and how they can live a sustainable life.
-Betsy Bloom, Editorial Intern and Center Midfielder (6th Grade Intramural League)