The long walk

Joshua Hudson

Perich and Johnson earned positions at Kent State as walk-ons

Susan Perich shoots against a Buffalo player during the game between Kent State and Buffalo Tuesday at the M.A.C. Center.

Credit: Beth Rankin

As freshman guard Susan Perich took a jump shot with the clock ticking down against Buffalo Wednesday, the entire Flashes bench rose in unison.

It wasn’t a game winning shot, but it was what all her teammates wanted to see.

Perich and freshman guard Ciera Johnson are walk-ons on the Kent State women’s basketball team.

Imagine going to practice, knowing that you probably won’t even get a chance to play.

Johnson and Perich practice just as hard as anyone else, sacrifice their bodies and time, and they put in just as much work as the next player.

They have seen a combined 33 minutes and scored one point — or just 443 points fewer than what junior forward Lindsay Shearer has scored this season.

“I have gotten experience, and I have learned a lot, especially as a freshman,” Johnson said. “I encourage my teammates, and it makes me feel good when we are winning.”

Winning is something the Flashes have done a lot of recently. They have won seven straight games and clinched their sixth Mid-American Conference East title. That is what’s most important for the two freshmen.

“We are always on the practice floor, and we are treated like a member of the team,” Perich said. “It feels really good to be a part of this team. I have developed some close relationships with the girls on the team.”

The two had to go through a series of tryouts with other walk-ons to make the squad, Perich said. She made the final cut and has been part of the team ever since.

Johnson took a different approach to making the team. She was originally team manager before given the chance to dress for the Flashes. She was promoted to the team after the fall semester and began dressing by January.

Both Perich and Johnson put in countless hours on the practice court to help out the Flashes. Even though they know their chances of playing are small, they said they get enjoyment in helping the team get better.

Kent State women’s basketball coach Bob Lindsay said he enjoys giving Perich and Johnson a chance to get in the game. Lindsay has been able to give more playing time to each in recent games when the Flashes’ defense has put the score out reach for the other team.

“Well it’s always nice to get them in a game,” he said. “They put in just as much work as anyone else does on this team.”

Apparently, the rest of the team feels the same way. Even when Perich missed the shot against Buffalo, her teammates were still cheering her on.

With less than a minute remaining, the Flashes’ bench could be seen jumping up and down every time Perich and Johnson touched the basketball. Unfortunately, neither of the two scored, but the team enjoyed rooting for them.

“Yeah it would have been nice to see them score,” Shearer said. “They come to practice everyday just like the rest of us.”

Contact women’s basketball reporter Joshua Hudson at [email protected].