For most athletes, the love for a specific sport starts in the dawn of their youth and from the simplest of beginnings.
Some find baseball through taking batting practice with a rock and a stick. Others dream of gold medals while they splash around in the bath tub. But for Marshall's Trevor Johnson, it was the pure enjoyment of kicking a soccer ball around his yard.
Now a high school senior, Johnson is reaping the benefits of his dedication to the sport.
Over his last nine game's, Johnson has tallied 11 goals for the Tigers. Included in that stretch was a pair of goals against New Ulm in Marshall's first win of the season on Sept. 11, and a hat trick over Schaeffer Academy of Rochester on Sept. 15. Over the Tigers' last six games, Johnson has seven goals while the Tigers have gone 3-3.
Playing as a forward, it is more or less Johnson's job to score for Marshall. But as any striker will admit, it takes a team to score.
When asked what had changed to set his scoring streak in motion, Johnson confirmed the importance of team play.
"Our team chemistry is finally starting to come together," he said. "Our midfield is significantly more active and knows where to be at the same time.
"We've been mostly doing through balls on the goals that we've scored so far this season. We've been connecting on those. The first couple games we were just trying to get our game down, but I think we're finally honing in now."
Forward is not Johnson's natural position. Entering the season he was projected as a midfielder. Marshall's team page at the Minnesota State High School League website still lists him in that capacity. But in need of goals, first-year head coach Pat Johnson sent Trevor to the top of Marshall's 4-5-1 formation.
"We didn't have (Trevor) there right away," Pat Johnson said of moving Trevor to forward. "We had him projected as a midfielder, but he's the one that started putting the ball in the net so we made the switch pretty quick."
The change has paid off, and the satisfaction that comes with seeing one of his players succeed is doubled for Marshall's head coach. Trevor Johnson is not just one of Pat Johnson's senior captains, he's also his son.
"The relationship makes for an interesting one, when you have both the home life together and the coaching," Pat said. "But we understand each other well enough where we kind of know when to communicate and when to just focus on other things. We've been doing this for a long time."
As the parent who watched his son dribbling the ball in the back yard all those years ago, the opportunity to spend extra time with a son growing up too fast through coaching was too good to pass up.
"The senior year thing was one of the things, when we talked about coaching this team, that was a special thing that I'd be able to work with him again," Pat said.
Trevor also appreciates the uniqueness of his situation.
"It's been really good," Trevor said of playing for his father. "This is definitely my favorite year so far. As a team, practices, everything is just better. It's a different environment."
With just two regular season games remaining, Trevor's senior season is nearing an end. But player and coach alike have expectations for the remaining games.
"I expect him to be involved with the scoring, whether it's shooting the ball in or his passing, it's always something we're looking forward to. We're looking for even more," Pat said.
Trevor added, "There's always chances for me every game. I've just got to keep trying my hardest and try and tuck away as many as I can."
The Tigers (3-8 overall, 2-3 South Central Conference) have home games against New Ulm (on Monday) and Southwest Minnesota Christian (Oct. 2) before the start of playoffs.
Concerning playoffs, Trevor has a specific goal in mind.
"We haven't got to the second round of the playoffs since the first year of the program in 2006,"?he said. "That would be pretty awesome to get to the second round, which we are completely capable of doing. That would be my goal."