Former Titan Gymnast Returns to Her Alma Mater

Oct. 28, 2008

Carol Johnston with 2009 team

FULLERTON, CA - The Cal State Fullerton women's gymnastics team welcomed back one of its own as former Titan great Carol "Lefty" Johnston returned to her alma mater to speak with the 2009 squad.

"I asked Carol to speak to the team because she is so inspiring and she is part of Fullerton's rich heritage," Head Coach Jill Hicks said. "Many of the gymnasts that come to Fullerton have no idea how amazing our history is at CSUF. I want the student-athletes to have pride in our university and to realize they, too, can be part of a great legacy.

"Carol is just one of the many past All-Americans and has a great `story' to tell. She overcame her disability and two major knee injuries. She never thought twice about giving up and set her goals to be a National Champion. It was an honor to have her come and share her experiences with us."

Born without a right arm below the elbow, Johnston competed four seasons with the Titans from 1977-80 under Head Coach Lynn Rogers and was a two-time All-American on beam and floor exercise in 1978. She was also a conference champion on the balance beam in 1977. She was the subject of a 1980 Disney film for television production called "Lefty," which has made her the most recognizable Titan athlete in history. A knee injury prevented her from competing on the 1979 national championship team but she returned to action in 1980.

"You can see it it the way she carries herself that she is in no way different from anyone else," freshman Kaitlin Reid said. "She believes she is the same and can therefore accomplish the same things. I think her success came from a different aspect of her personality. She is one of those people born with drive."

"It was so inpiring to hear that she never had a day where she felt sorry for herself because of her disadvantage of having only one arm," added junior Shannon Kawada. "Her 'I can do anything' attitude set her free in this world and allowed her to pursue gymnastics and excel in it.

"Her life is a lesson and a gift to everyone. Carol's life is proof that the only disadvantage that a person has is their attitude and, with a positive attitude, all things are possible. After hearing her talk about her life, I thought a lot about my life and how my struggles and challenges that I face on a daily basis is nothing compared to what Carol had gone through. Her life story will definitely have a positive impact on my own life, especially as I continue to face obstacles down the road."

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