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When Sammy-Jo Johnson isn’t playing cricket, she’s driving trucks. And when she’s not driving trucks, she’s racing cars.
The 30-year-old Sydney Thunder bowler has been a staple of the Women’s Big Bash League since its inception in 2015, but when cricket season’s over, she’s behind the wheel, either driving trucks for work or drag racing for pleasure.
“I’ve always had the passion and love for drag racing, I was doing that since I was 18,” Johnson said. “I still race now in the off-season, which is a lot of fun, but I probably never thought of it as a career option because it’s probably not something a lot of females get into.
“It’s something I’m passionate about, and I’d love to bracket race [a form of drag racing with a handicap] later down the track once I stop playing cricket. But at the moment I’m focussing on playing cricket because I’m pretty lucky to get to do it as a job.”
The automotive industry has always been part of Johnson’s life. Growing up in Lismore, her dad was a truck driver, and she’s been around workshops and garages her whole life.
“I’ve always been around the tools, since I was a baby. So that’s where the passion stemmed from, and then as I’ve gotten older, my partner Brian he loves his cars, and he’s a mechanic as well,” Johnson said.
Sydney Thunder player Sammy-Jo Johnson.Credit: Flavio Brancaleone
“We’ve got a race car, we’re building two other ones, so we’ve got plenty of tools and stuff we’re tinkering with at home.”
There are still many years of cricket left for Johnson, including the ninth season of the WBBL which started on Thursday night with the Sixers taking on the Stars at North Sydney Oval.
At just 30, she’s a veteran of the game, but the growth of the competition since its first year in 2015 has been unbelievable, said Johnson.
“You go back to [the first season of the WBBL], you used to play two games in the one day at a neutral venue, and you might have a couple of people watching,” she said.
Sydney Thunder all-rounder Sammy-Jo Johnson.Credit: Getty
“Now, we’re on free-to-air TV, subscription TV, we’ve got thousands of people that are lining up to get in the gates. That’s the progression.”
When her cricket career does finally come to a close, though, she has no doubts about what’s next.
“The mechanics is the dream, that would be the one thing I’d love to do to be qualified and have my own workshop.”
“I’ve been around cars and trucks since I was a kid, but obviously as a female, it’s really hard to get into it with being a professional athlete. So, I’m still trying to find my way into the market and get someone to give me an opportunity. Because that’s the dream goal, to be a mechanic,” Johnson said.
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