AHU Bantam Purple standout Johnson fighting like a true Knight
Youth hockey is supposed to be full of battles, both on and off the ice, but for AHU Bantam Purple player Stormy Johnson, the battle is personal.
Stormy, born in Alaska, has been an avid hockey player since he was four years old. He was drawn to hockey because of the team nature.
“I think hockey is one of the best sports I’ve ever played,” Stormy said. “You have to know what you’re doing to not get checked and not only that, but to make smart plays and make the team happy.”
This past June, Stormy and his sister were visiting their father in Alaska when he noticed something was not “right.” He called his mother and was seen by a doctor immediately. After examining Stormy, the doctor’s office conferenced in his mother to discuss the findings.
Stormy was diagnosed with cancer.
“Hearing the prognosis over the phone was the hardest thing I have experienced,” said Hannalaura Johnson, Stormy’s mother. “I just wanted to hug my boy and let him know that we were going to get through this.”
The next day, Stormy went in for surgery to remove a tumor. Hannalaura was able to be there for her son to see him through the surgery. A week later, the biopsy results came back, confirming cancer. He immediately began chemotherapy.
Wanting to keep his team aware of the situation, Stormy let his team know.
“I told my team everything a week before my first chemo,” said Stormy. “I told them everything that was going on, how it would be for a few months, but then I would be back out a month after.”
Each treatment would come with a four-day stay in the hospital. When the chemo didn’t cause him to sleep, Stormy found solace in his teammate’s calls, texts and visits, and a PS4, of course.
Assistant coach Mark Binazeski said that the team initially was pretty down. Having just met a new friend, they were concerned to lose such an impact player.
The team quickly responded with an outpouring of support for their teammate. Initially putting gold tape with Stormy’s No. 71 on their sticks, in addition to gold ribbon stickers, also with his number. (The gold ribbon is the symbol for childhood cancer.)
Every game, the team hangs Stormy’s jersey behind the bench so that he is there battling with them.
Bantam Purple also created a silicone bracelet honoring their teammate, with one side reading “Stormy – AHU #71” and the other “Fight like a KNIGHT.” Word quickly got out about the bracelets and Binazeski was shipping them to families in Alaska.
Two weeks after his first treatment, Stormy made it out to a practice.
Binazeski stated that, “I know it had a tremendous impact on him. I could tell that for a 13-year-old that this whole experience for him was tough to process and he was pretty quiet, but once he got on the ice, it was ear-to-ear smiles and laughs with his friends, his teammates, his fellow Knights.”
A recent CT scan came back good, so doctors and his family will continue to monitor him. He has a follow up CT scan in three months.
Stormy returned to the ice full time the first week of December. His teammates, elated to see him, bombarded him with questions about when he would be ready to play. Stormy just smiled, happy to back with his teammates.
“As a mother, I never imagined that my son would be diagnosed with cancer,” Hannalaura said. “Through all of this, Stormy has been so strong and mature. He never once said, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ – he just pulled his way through it. I am so proud of him for having the courage at 13 to come and talk to me about it and for being brave enough to share it with the people around him who care.”
— Bryan O’Sullivan
(Dec. 19, 2017)