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For the Love of the Game: Chloe Johnson

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Duluth, Minn. -- Chloe Johnson is all-game, little talk…

Unless of course she's playing in the driveway with her older brother talking smack.

"I challenge anyone to find me a better fourth grader," said Starks Academy owner Dyami Starks.

Starks Academy coach Dyami Starks took notice of Chloe two years ago… on a racquetball court in Duluth.

"I had a group of high school students doing some strength and conditioning things, hurdles, ladders… and up in the corner working with some tennis balls was Chloe, a second grader."

From there, under the coaching of Dyami, Chloe has blossomed into a fourth grader who can challenge players even eight or nine years her senior…

In fact she has, at Dyami's high school practices…

"I said listen girls, don't take it easy on this girl now, she's in fourth grade but she's a monster."

Because Chloe… doesn't take it easy on them.

"Chloe pushes the ball full court… does a nifty little two-step move and gets a layup."

Chloe also has the work-ethic to match, spending 2-3 hours a day with a basketball in hand.

On the surface, Chloe may just look like your average fourth grader with killer handles…

But Chloe's story is so much more.

"I think playing (for her) is the easy part."

Chloe struggles with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.

"I think basketball allows her to express herself in ways she couldn't do in any other avenue."

Prior to finding her love of basketball… Chloe's parents struggled to find the answer for their daughter.

"It was so bad and so dark for so long."

Chloe found herself with a secret storm in her mental health… Obsesive compulsive disorder causing her to wash her hands until they bled… sending Greg and Heather to their knees for an answer.

"We pray, Oh God can you just help us find something for Chloe that can get through to her," said Heather Johnson, Chloe's mom.

Their answer was found… on a racquetball court in Duluth.

"And then we find this basketball piece and that was her one release. That was her way that she could just be who she is with no judgement."

So yeah… Chloe's good at basketball….

"As a mom, it's super cool that she's the leading scorer, it's super cool when she's the leading assist-getter."

But more important is the basketball community that Chloe has found…

"I don't know if anyone understands how important that is to Chloe and how it has literally saved her life."

Friendships that include Minnesota Lynx legend Sylvia Fowles… whom Chloe has come to befriend through mutual friends.

"Sylvia also connected with Chloe on the mental health piece… they both kind of vibed on that secret storm theme. They really talk. She came to watch Chloe play," said Starks.

Dyami added that Chloe's support system is going to get her far. How far? Well, if it's up to Chloe...

She'd like to win a state championship at Duluth Marshall and then go on to play at UConn.


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