Former women's volleyball standout Charlene Johnson was inducted into the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame on Sept. 22. The star setter made her mark on the Cougar program with her incredible play and helped BYU maintain its tradition of national volleyball excellence.
Even before Charlene Johnson donned her No. 16 BYU women's volleyball jersey as a freshman in 1991, everyone knew the 5-foot-10 setter was a force to be reckoned with.
Already a three-time high school All-American out of Pleasant Grove, Utah, Johnson did not disappoint as a freshman starter. She took on her setting duties with an iron will, leading the Cougars to a 26-5 overall record and second-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference. As the honors poured in for the young Johnson -- WAC Freshman of the Year, All-WAC First Team, AVCA All-West Region Second Team and Asics/Volleyball Monthly Freshman All-America Team -- it became obvious that BYU fans were witnessing the emergence of a star.
And emerge she did. Over the course of the following three seasons, Johnson continued to provide the complete package to the BYU women's volleyball program, delighting fans, racking up awards and, most importantly, leading the Cougars to success. Honored as an All-WAC selection in each of her four seasons and the reciepient of four All-America citations, Johnson also earned the distinction of becoming the only women's volleyball player in program history to earn All-Region accolades during all four years of her BYU playing career.
BYU's second-place WAC finish in her freshman year did not last long with Johnson directing the Cougar attack. A 1992 league title was the first of three straight for the Cougars, who also saw success on the national level as they advanced to the NCAA's Elite Eight in 1992 and the Final Four in 1993. Johnson earned NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team honors both years and NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team accolades in 1993 as she recorded an eye-popping 65 assists against UCLA to propel her team to the Final Four. Her career culminated in 1994 with WAC Player of the Year honors in addition to All-Region and All-America recognition.
A two-time Cougar Club Competitor Award recipient, Johnson's incredible numbers left their mark on the BYU record books. She is second all-time in three categories, including career assists (5,321), career assists per game (12.35) and season assists per game (13.13), a mark that was also fifth in the nation in 1992.
Johnson's stellar career did not end with her college eligibility. In 1995, she served as an undergraduate assistant coach at BYU before leaving to play professionally overseas for two years in Switzerland and Italy. Johnson returned to her native country in 1997 and began a five-year stint with the U.S. National Team, which included a fourth-place finish at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games held in Sydney, Australia.
Since leaving the National Team, Johnson has used her skills to help others, serving as an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska, perennially considered one of the top teams in the nation. The Huskers enter the 2006 season as the preseason No. 1 after losing in the 2005 NCAA title match. A 1999 BYU graduate with a B.A. in Therapeutic Recreation, Johnson has three children: Kaipo, 13; Vailin, 4; and Sydney, 2.