Last week, Kyle Johnston received some exciting news.
The Massachusetts Maritime Academy senior, who has been spotted on the gridiron for the past four years, was named the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Framingham State University senior Mary Kate O’Day was also honored by the conference, being named the female scholar-athlete of the year.
“I feel grateful to be honored,” said Johnston, who was nominated for the award by Mike Kelley, who is the director of athletics at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
“It is a great honor and I am grateful for it. And I am glad I can represent Massachusetts Maritime Academy.”
Johnston became the first Buccaneer to receive this award since Jonathan White, who played soccer at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, in 2011.
For student-athletes to receive this honor, they must be nominated by their school’s director of athletics, be a senior, and achieve at least a 3.2 cumulative grade point average. Recipients are selected by the MASCAC Athletic Directors.
Johnston enjoyed a successful senior season with the Buccaneers, registering career-bests in total tackles (57.0), solo stops (37), sacks (12.5), and tackles for a loss (19.5). Additionally, he recorded a career-high three forced fumbles along with two break-ups. The 12.5 sacks were the most recorded by a defender in the conference – it was also the fifth-highest total in Division III.
Noontime Sports recently spoke with Johnston about his career with the Buccaneers, as well as where he is headed after graduation next month.
When you look back to your playing days with the Massachusetts Maritime Academy football program, what will you remember most?
The guys. I made some of my best friends through this program.
The Massachusetts Maritime Academy football program consists of some great all-around guys and they deserve to get awards like this too because they are just as competitive and just as good as I am to receive this (type) of honor, if not, better.
My position coach for my first three seasons with the Buccaneers – Odell Jones, who currently oversees the defensive line at Assumption College – was probably one of the best coaches I ever had in my career. He pushed me to my limits and I give him full credit with how successful I am in football today. But I will definitely remember the people the most (because) those are the memories that will last the most for me.
You and your teammates enjoyed a successful 2019 campaign. Do you feel the team (and program) took a step forward this past season?
Yeah, absolutely. I think it was a total success. My graduating class may have featured the most seniors this program has had in a while, but we stuck together through the ups and downs, and I give all credit to the players, including the grades below us.
I am hopeful the team can continue to build on what they did last year and continue to get better.
Your team competes in a few rivalry games each season. Which one is your favorite and why?
The (rivalry) we have with both Maine Maritime Academy and Maritime (N.Y.) are important to us and they go through the same stuff we go through (during game weeks). But our rivalry with Framingham State is important – it is always a big game and so is Bridgewater State. Unfortunately, we did not beat Bridgewater State this past year, but I always feel we put forth a good effort against them, as well as Framingham State.
Where will you be headed after graduation next month?
I just accepted a full-time position earlier this month with Travelers in Braintree, Massachusetts. I will be working in the ocean marine underwriters department.
Finally, do you plan to return to campus hopefully later this year or in the future to cheer on the Buccaneers?
Absolutely. I would love to come back and cheer on my teammates.