Winthrop High senior Johnna Fisher first became affiliated with Lady Viking girls basketball as a sixth grader. One of her earliest mentors, head coach Peter Grimes, invited her to be a team manager for the Winthrop program.
Fisher served in that capacity for three seasons, hoping to eventually wear the Lady Viking uniform herself. The 6-foot-3-inch Fisher became a starting center as a freshman and developed her skills each season while also progressing through the AAU ranks.
On Wednesday morning during a brief but uplifting ceremony in the conference room adjacent to Principal Gail Conlon’s office, Johnna Fisher signed a letter of intent to attend Central Connecticut State University, a Division 1 basketball school.
Fisher is the recipient of a full scholarship and will be playing women’s college basketball at its highest level.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Johnna Fisher and I’m very excited that she has gotten the opportunity from being a student at Winthrop High School,” said Conlon. “She’s a great young lady. I think she’ll be extraordinarily successful at Central Connecticut.”
Fisher chose CCSU over several others schools that had been in correspondence with her.
“As soon I visited the Central Connecticut campus, I really liked the school,” said Fisher. “The coaches are awesome. I’ve met some of the girls on the team, including Kirsten Daamen of Pentucket, whom I played against at Tsongas Arena.”
Early in her high school career, Fisher began to aspire to play Division 1 college basketball.
“I started playing AAU for the Bay State Blizzard and my coaches let me know that it was a possibility that I could play Division 1 ball,” said Johnna.
Fisher said she is grateful to the WHS faculty for helping her attain her goal.
“I love the teachers and coaches here – they’re awesome,” said Fisher. “From the principal to the athletic director to the coaches and the teachers, everyone is here for you no matter what guidance you need. They kept me on the right track.”
Peter Grimes was her coach and mentor even before she stepped on the basketball court.
“Mr. Grimes took me under his wing and I started helping out the basketball team as a manager,” said Fisher. “He worked with me on my shooting and my skills as a center. He helped me come a long way as a basketball player and a student.”
Michelle Cataldo Favaloro and John Fisher looked on proudly as their talented 17-year-old daughter affixed her signature to the various documents.
“I’m proud of Johnna for her hard work academically and athletically,” said Favaloro. “I think athletics are a good opportunity in high school because it gives students an opportunity for a scholarship and to attend college.”
Favaloro, a lifelong resident of the town, thanked the Winthrop High community for their support of her daughter.
“I think everyone here at Winthrop High School has really supported her academically and athletically – Principal Gail Conlon, Assistant Principal Robyn Kostegan, her basketball coaches, athletic director Rob O’Leary, all her teachers and the students,” said Favaloro.
Favaloro also credited the Viking Pride Foundation for their support of all Winthrop High athletes. “Viking Pride gives children an opportunity to attain something like this.”
For 6-feet-6-inch John Fisher, the signing ceremony rekindled memories of his own college basketball career. Fisher said his daughter displayed athleticism on the basketball court at a young age.
“I knew she was very good at hoop, but I just hoped she improved academically,” said Fisher. “The teachers in the Winthrop school system did a great job and really helped her out.”
Fisher said his daughter enjoyed the collegiate atmosphere at Central Connecticut State on her very first visit.
“Johnna visited a bunch of schools, but she fell in love with Central Connecticut on her first visit,” said Fisher. “This school specializes in her field of study, which is Physical Education, and Johnna wants to be a coach herself. This is a super exciting day for all of us.”
Rob O’Leary, WHS director of athletics and a former college hockey player, attended the ceremony. “I want to congratulate Johnna on this honor,” said O’Leary. “She did a lot of hard work and has come a long way both in the classroom and on the basketball court. She deserves this recognition and I couldn’t think of a better person for this to happen to.”
WHS girls basketball coach Ignacio Oyola said he’s excited about coaching Johnna Fisher during her final season in the program.
“I’m extremely excited for her and the whole program,” said Oyola. “There’s no doubt she’s going to be a leader for the team. She’s definitely a top player on our team and in the conference. I think she’s deserves this opportunity to go on and play at the college level.”
Johnna Fisher joins the select company of WHS female athletes who have gone on to compete in collegiate sports, including recent graduates Courtney Finn (Bentley), Kristen Finn (Bates), Katerina Mallios (Babson), and Nicole Giaquinto (UMass/Lowell). Such Viking hoop standouts as Lisa Montelone, Maureen McManus, Debbie Consoli, Amy Sullivan, Elizabeth Doherty, Kerri Lally and Lori Thomas are others who have gone on to compete at the next level.
Johnna Fisher is now next in line to carry on that tradition.