You’ve got a friend in me.
Johanna grew up in a place in Sweden called the Värmländska forest, in the city of Karlskoga. I met her when she made the fantastic decision to move to Skövde. She moved to play handball and to study, and I thank both these institutions for yet another star!
She started playing handball at an early age and fell in love with the game. She was a natural talent and had it pretty easy in her younger years. She quickly became a rising star and looked for a new challenge on the way to become a top player. Hence – Skövde.
I know her move to Skövde did not go in the direction that she planned. There where obstacles and circumstances that changes the game plan many times. But, from my point-of-view, she ran with what she was thrown. I know there were totally shit times and bad news along the way, several times, but she kept going, fighting and creating a new plan. 5 surgeries on her knee and 2 comebacks later with a determination of steel, she never fell out of love of the game, never complained and kept going.
She took on a team of young girls as their coach and found another natural talent. There’s always a silver lining and that was hers – and theirs. Her knowledge and love of the game, together with her strength and warmth made it a fantastic match. (photo to the right is by Viktor Ljungström)
Playing handball on a high level almost equals a full time job, and together with doing that she was also a coach, worked part time at a school as an assistant, sat on the board of the club and during summertime, when most people go on vacation, she worked two extra jobs. Oh, and also studied a full time program at the university. And, she always had time for her friends.
The program she graduated from was the personnel organization and leadership program, which is what she’s working with today. And it is the perfect fit for her, helping, supporting and guiding others. She got her dream job (and met her dream man) back in Karlskoga, which is why she moved back home. She recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and together with her Björn, just bought a house.
I’m gonna be totally honest with you, I cannot – for the life of me – remember when I met this incredible woman. Maybe I should, and I do blame my bad memory here, but it just always felt like she was in my life. I can’t remember where it was we met because I feel like I’ve known her my whole life.
We did hang out a lot in Arena Skövde, on the court and in the gym, and also – inevitably – in physiotherapy. She played handball and studied with the same amount of determination, and a lot of brain. It’s easy to become bitter, angry and start complaining when things get hard, when you see your dream moving further and further away. But not this woman, not once did I hear her complain. She kept going, kept fighting, and kept getting stronger.
I have, in part, my sister to thank for getting to know Johanna. They became very close which meant I saw a lot of her to. And, not much unlike my sister, I saw a woman who was warm, funny, caring and always hungry – just like me. You know when people get tagged in pictures or videos on social media that are in some way food-related? Yeah, thats always us. And it’s funny every time.
She is everything a true friend ought to be. She is always there for me no matter what, with a listening ear and a helpful heart. She is one of the people in my life that I know will never turn her back or walk away. She is so easy to be with and always has an open door.
We had to force her, a little bit, to be in on this photoshoot, and – true to her nature – she agreed if she could to it with a friend, so my sister stepped in (there was no need to convince her). So I feel it’s fitting that she is in this photo, in more ways than one.
If you would choose three things in your life, that has shaped you the most as a person, what would it be? (I’ll ask all the women this so you get their own reflection about their life and who they are. The reflektion is in both Swedish and English, because it’s her own – Swedish – words)
Handball: From the age of 9, I started playing handball in Karlskoga. I had no difficulty in learning and had it quite easy. I really lived for handball. Up to the age of 19 I played in Karlskoga where I was the top scorer in the league two years in a row, we also won the league and I started feeling that I wanted to develop myself further on the court. I packed my things and moved to Skövde to study and to play handball in Skövde HF. I started in Somby (which is the second team) and oh what a difference in quality of handball. My drive for handball only got stronger and stronger. I trained up to the level of the first team, but right as my knee would break and my rehab journey would become longer than the end of my career – not as planned. I was fully driven and had my mind set on returning. Handball was so much fun and it was so incredibly rewarding to train with all the great players in the team. I came back twice, and then I gave up – after 5 surgeries on my knee. I could not fight anymore and was tired both physically and mentally. I put my shoes on the shelf and bowed out. But handball did not end there, I was still on the board of the club and was the head coach for a bunch of great young girls in Skövde HF. I have experienced and participated in SC (Swedish championships) and coached many fun games.
”Handbollen: Från 9 års ålder ungefär började jag spela handboll i Karlskoga. Jag hade inga svårigheter att lära mig och hade ganska lätt för det. Jag levde verkligen för handbollen. Fram till 19 års ålder spelade jag i Karlskoga där jag hann å vinna skytteligan 2 år i rad, vinna serien och på det känna att jag ville utvecklas mer i handbollen. Jag tog mitt pick och pack och flyttade till Skövde för att studera och spela handboll i Skövde HF. Jag började i Somby och oj vilken skillnad på kvalité på handboll. Mitt driv för handbollen blev bara starkare och starkare. Jag kämpade mig upp till a lags nivå men lagom till att mitt knä skulle gå sönder och min rehab-resa skulle bli längre och slutet på min karriär än vad jag trodde från början. Jag var fullt driven och skulle tillbaka. Handbollen var så jäkla rolig och det var så otroligt givande att få träna med alla duktiga spelare i a laget. Jag kom tillbaka två gånger och sen gav jag upp efter 5 operationen på knät. Jag orkade inte kämpa längre och var trött både fysiskt och psykiskt. Jag la skorna på hyllan och tackade för mig. Men handbollen tog inte slut där, jag satt i styrelse och var huvudtränare för ett gäng duktiga tjejer i Skövde HF. Jag har upplevt och varit med i SM och coachat många roliga matcher.
Having a baby: To become a mother has shaped me in another way. The happiness and love of your own flesh and blood together with the fear that something might happen. To become a mother is the best thing in the world.
Få barn: Att få bli mamma har format mig på ett annat sätt. Lyckan och kärleken till sitt eget kött och blod samtidigt skräcken att om något skulle hända. Att få bli mamma är det bästa som finns.
My mother: For as long as I can remember my mom has been sick. She has had everything you can think of, rheumatism, cancer, struma, disc fracture, blood loss, muscle deterioration etc etc, I could write an essay about it. But, she is so strong my mother. She raised three children, being so sick, become a disability pensioner and fought so hard. She has taught me right and wrong, how unfair life can be, but still being able to see positive things in everything, how to handle money, and how to be so stubborn that you could move a mountain all on your own. Without my mother I would not be the person I am today. She is completely unassuming and so incredibly happy.
Mamma: Så länge jag kan minnas har min mamma varit sjuk. Hon har haft allt man kan tänka sig ha, reumatism, cancer, struma, diskbråck, blodförlust, muskler förtvinar etc etc, skulle kunna skriva fler A4 sidor.. men hon är så jäkla stark min mamma. Hon har uppfostrat tre barn, varit så sjuk, blivit sjukpensionär och kämpat. Hon har lärt mig rätt och fel, hur orättvist livet kan vara men ändå se det positiva i allt, hur man handskas med pengar, hur man kan vara så envis att man kan flytta berg själv. Utan min mamma hade jag aldrig blivit den jag är idag. Hon är helt makalös och så otroligt livsglad. ”
Everything Johanna does, she does with her head held high and a firm, decisive mind. She has this mental strength that I admire so much, and she has a true sense of right and wrong. At the same time she is soft and caring in a way that strengthens others, and that is a fantastic ability.
I think she is a true role model for young girls. Something to learn from her is that it’s ok to be strong and soft at the same time. Learn to make your own way and when life throws you a curveball – hit that shit in the right direction with all your power.
Courage, strength, and believing in yourself. Thats the video I would tag her in.