About this series
Coming up with a short list and then ranking the 10 greatest athletes in the history of each YAIAA high school was a daunting task. For sure, there is no scientific approach. But after two years of interviews, research and roundtable discussions, we are presenting as fair an attempt as possible to create an objective list on a decidedly subjective topic.
OUR CRITERIA: 1. The only accomplishments considered were those achieved while competing in high school varsity athletics. If an athlete earned a college scholarship, that was also factored in. 2. Accomplishments outside the setting of high school varsity sports and accomplishments after high school were not taken into account. 3. Athletes who attended more than one local high school were only evaluated at the school where they had the most varsity success. 4. Female athletes were rated by how they dominated their own sports not how they would fare going head-to-head against male athletes.

Your turn
If you d like to comment or offer a differing opinion on this list, we d love to hear from you. Each Sunday, we ll present your feedback on opinions on page 2 of the York Sunday News sports section - The Rundown. E-mail your thoughts to Sports Editor Chris Otto at cotto@ydr.com or mail them to: Greatest Athletes, c/o Chris Otto, 1891 Loucks Road, York 17408.

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Her pursuit of becoming a doctor led Dana Johns to Rwanda.

Of course, it was her life-long love of basketball that enabled her to become probably the first 5-foot-1½-inch white woman to play on the outside courts of a small African village there.

Who else would have thought to teach the tiny kids basketball drills for something to do?

Leave it to Johns, the former multi-sport star at Eastern High (class of 2002) and Franklin & Marshall College. The one who just entered her third year of medical school in Philadelphia, some day hoping to work in pediatrics.

The young woman who also finds time for oil painting on the side.

Johns impressed the Rwanda villagers so much on the basketball court in the summer of 2007 that she even received a marriage proposal in broken English.

Dana Johns was a 2002 Eastern grad who starred in volleyball, softball and soccer, though she was best known for her work on the basketball court.
Dana Johns was a 2002 Eastern grad who starred in volleyball, softball and soccer, though she was best known for her work on the basketball court. (Submitted)

It certainly was a life-changing adventure.

She and other students from Thomas Jefferson University helped teach the villagers about nutrition and HIV. She bonded with dozens of children and was "adopted" by an African family.

She watched sunsets over a volcano.

She tracked mountain gorillas.

She learned what it was like for people scarred by war and genocide to live in adobe homes with tin roofs and dirt floors. Towns with no running water or electricity. Holes in the ground for toilets.

The trip ended up being a salvation, in a way.

"The first year in med school, you're kind of jaded. You lose your lust for life and medicine. It's grueling. It's brutal," Johns said. "You forget the reasons why you're there in the first place. You go to class and study and work out and study some more and go to bed, and do it all again the next day. You forget what makes you passionate about it in the first place."

Johns always has been a doer, an overachiever.

It never seemed to matter that she was the smallest on the basketball court. She still was named the YAIAA's Division I Player of the Year and also was a standout in volleyball, softball and soccer.

At F&M, a Division III school, she was the Centennial Conference Player of the Year as a junior point guard and ended her career as the best three-point shooter in school history. She also was a star center fielder in the spring.

Meanwhile, she majored in neuroscience, minored in studio art and solidified her calling in medicine, especially in pediatrics.

It all led her to Rwanda to help others - and be paid back in ways she never imagined.

One of her favorite memories was trekking hours through muddy forests and mountain paths to watch silver back gorillas.

"The little ones were curious and playful and would come right up to you and try to touch you and then run away," Johns wrote in an e-mail to her family.

Dana Johns’ adopted ’Mama’ is seen in Gisenyi, Rwanda.
Dana Johns' adopted 'Mama' is seen in Gisenyi, Rwanda. (Submitted)
"Finally, the leader came charging back down at us. Went right past us, brushed my leg and continued down the mountain. The rest of the gorillas followed. All right past my leg ..."

The trip ended with Johns receiving her Rwandese name of Munezero, meaning "one who is kind and brings happiness to others."

She hopes this all will lead to creating a medical clinic in the village one day.

For now, she is back to being a med student, her eyes opened, her world forever changed.

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