I had the honor and privilege to interview an awesome young lady whose life is about family, her kids and sports. Kanika Johnson is the daughter of Frank and Bobbie Jean Johnson. She graduated from Bayshore Christian High School and the University of South Florida with a degree in Business Administration. She’s married to Wallace King and had three beautiful children, Nya, Kayla and Caydon.
Recently Kanika and her husband formed a basketball team in Brandon, Florida. Here’s what Kanika had to say:
Basketball Mom Interview
The Lyfe Magazine: Tell us a little about yourself.
Kanika Johnson: Not really much to tell. I’m a mom of three, wife of 17 years. I’m a contract administrator, which is basically a fancy way of saying, I work in budgeting and contract negotiations with Hillsborough County.
The Lyfe Magazine: When did you first become involved in sports?
Kanika Johnson: I started out playing t-ball really young. I can’t remember if I wanted to play or if my parents just signed me up. My dad at the time was a baseball coach for my brother’s team. My sister played softball, as well. I stayed with that then switched over to playing softball. I stayed with it as I got older, and played for both the park and school throughout high school. When I was in middle school, I added volleyball to the mix, which kept me pretty busy. I loved it, though, and continued playing, until, I graduated high school. The only sport I remember my parents wanting me to play was basketball. I tried it for a season but didn’t like my coach so I ended up quitting and getting involved in cheerleading. I used cheerleading as a way to do something between volleyball and softball season, and I could still watch the basketball games without having to pay to get in.
The Lyfe Magazine: Describe your motivation with getting your kids into basketball, keeping them motivated and keeping yourself motivated?
Kanika Johnson: I was actually surprised they wanted to play. They never showed any interest. I just offered them support. One of the things I stress to my kids is that nothing is ever given to you. If you want something you have to work hard for it. It’s what was taught to me by my parents. With AAU being so competitive they know the amount of work it takes to be able to keep up, so I think what keeps them motivated is seeing the growth in their game as well as the opportunities that comes with it. For me, I love watching the whole process from beginning to end. We take players who are raw. There is nothing better than watching how they grow, and the confidence they build.
The Lyfe Magazine: What do you want your kids to achieve in sports?
Kanika Johnson: Overall, I want my kids to be happy, whether playing sports or pursuing other avenues. I try to make them understand that their life is not all about basketball. I don’t want them to grow up to be one dimensional. I stress to them that their minds can get them just as far as a basketball.
When we first started this organization, I required our players to maintain a 2.3 GPA and warned them the following year it would go up. This year, I’ve raised it to a 2.8 GPA. Next year, I will raise it again. I do this so the kids can understand how important it is to get your education. My daughter happens to have a talent to play basketball and has expressed interest in wanting to play in college, possibly professionally. That’s great! Her backup plan is to get her degree in Sports Medicine. That’s even better.
The Lyfe Magazine: When did you and your husband create the Tampa Bay Kings?
Kanika Johnson: We started it in November, 2015
The Lyfe Magazine: Tell us about that experience.
Kanika Johnson: It was petrified! I’d just had a baby, was working a full time job, and had two other kids. I knew it would be a huge commitment, time wise, as well as financially. I pray daily. One of the things I pray for on a daily basis is guidance. At the time, I wasn’t really sure if we were on the right path, professionally. I’m also on the slow side to recognize things that are right in front of me so in my prayer, I always make sure to ask if God can make his answers extra clear so I will notice them. At the time, my husband was starting to come into his own as a coach and trainer. I noticed the girls and the parents were really starting to respond to him. The question shifted to not if we were going to start an organization but how? I’m a planner, and I will plan, and over plan to make sure everything works out. One Saturday, one of our parents invited our family over for dinner at their house. Mind you, at the time, I was still on the fence as to how we were going to proceed in starting this. It was there that they pointed out my planning was a way of masking my fear of failure. They were right, I was afraid we would fail. From that point on, we’ve never looked back. Our first year was a rough one. Working with three kids is a struggle by itself, but we were also still trying to figure everything out, plus we had to deal with money issues, and find funds for kids who couldn’t afford to play. We had one team at the time. We really had to focus on bringing everything together. It was a lot on our shoulders. We had other people watching, waiting for us to fail. A good friend of mine told me, the first year is the hardest; just get through the first year, and we did.
The Lyfe Magazine: I understand the Tampa Bay Kings has grown. Can you tell us a little about that and what you expect to happen in the future with the Kings?
Kanika Johnson: It has! We started with three kids, two of them were ours!
Ultimately, our focus is what feels right. We built this organization off of what we wanted to see in a program. We make sure our kids know education is a priority, we reinforce getting involved in the community. This year alone, our kids have participated in a Thanksgiving food drive, where they not only had to collect donations but also had to help and learn how Metropolitan Ministries distributes the food to families. Our teens participated with the Salvation Army in feeding the homeless where they had to help prepare the food, make survival bags, and also went out on the street to help distribute them to the homeless. Salvation Army rewarded our kids at the end of the day by feeding them, and gave them some other items to let them know they appreciated their efforts. Our kids never miss an opportunity to eat, ever! So, when you see them giving their food away to someone else in need, you know the reality of what they just saw is sinking in.
This is what we envisioned when all of this first started. We try and shape our organization around not only what we want, but what the parents want as well. We can’t please everyone, but I’d have to say overall, everyone is about 98% happy with the direction we are going in. Since our players are happy, they tell their friends, and their friends come. We started this year with one team that grew to two, now we have four teams and it just keeps growing. It makes for some very long days but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are truly blessed. My only hope is to remain close to the reason why we started this organization in the first place.
The Tampa Bay Kings Basketball Academy
The Tampa Bay Kings Basketball Academy is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to the growth and development of both boys and girls ages 6-18. Their goal is to provide a training program available to anyone who has both the passion to learn the game, as well as the competitive spirit to be the best they can be, both on and off the court. Their focus is to prepare the kids for the future by developing them overall. By being a part of the program the kids will learn the importance of academics, discipline, sportsmanship, and teamwork. Learn more about the Kings atwww.tampabaykingsbasketball.com