Merced County Times Newspaper
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Hilmar girl embraces celebrity status, kids world record


Johanna Lawler of Hilmar is getting used to standing out — on and off the court.

The volleyball player stands 6 feet tall, and she’s only in the 7th grade.

Lawler towers over her teammates, opponents, and pretty much every other student at her school, except for maybe one boy.

She’s already a dominant middle blocker for the Diamondbacks of Dutcher Middle School in Turlock. And she served up something like 134 aces in her second season with the RAGE, a club team based in Ripon.

“I feel like a little bit of a celebrity at school,” she admits.

But it’s more than a feeling. Remarkably, at 12 years old, in the midst of early adolescence, Lawler is putting her best foot forward — in both the figurative and literal sense.

After all, for her age, she also happens to have the biggest foot in the world.

No kidding. The young Lawler holds the record for girls ages 10 to 12 as of Aug. 20 on the Kids World Records website.

The official measurement was confirmed at 11.75 inches. For comparison’s sake, that’s about a women’s shoe size of 14 1/2, or a men’s size 13.

“Johanna got the idea to apply for the record when she had met some other tall girls at volleyball,” explains her mom, Kelly Lawler. “She noticed that their feet were not nearly as big as hers, so she looked up if there was a record for the largest foot and applied.”

Actually, the family also checked out the Guinness World Record site too, but the listings there only had a broader teenage category; it was not broken down into age groups. Nevertheless, Lawler was close to breaking that record too.

“She’s not that far off,” her mom says. “Only a couple centimeters. She is going to be monitoring that one.”

The young Lawler went on to google her way to the Kids World Records website, and there she discovered a girl in Pennsylvania that held the record in her age group. Much to Lawler’s surprise, the girl’s foot was about four shoe sizes smaller than her own.

The Lawler family, including a few older children at or above 6 feet tall, knows all about shoe sizes.

“It’s hard to find Johanna shoes,” Kelly Lawler says. “She just wears mens shoes, like Vans, Birkenstocks, Crocs — anything that’s kind of unisex. She would have to special order any women’s shoe, which is really kinda of a bummer for a seventh grader.”

It’s OK though, because the youngster appears to be taking everything in stride.

“It has been fun to tell people about the record, and kids at school think it’s really cool,” Johanna Lawler says. “They also can’t believe that my foot is that big. … My teacher brought up the [Kids World Records] website in class to show my classmates, and I brought foot-shaped donuts from Fails Donut Factory to share with my 1st period class to celebrate.”

Of all things, the popular doughnut shop in Turlock just happens to be known for making foot-shaped donuts.

Lawler adds that she’s not stopping with her feet. She wants to extend her reach by checking out if she has the biggest hand in the world for her age group.

“I have really long fingers and large hands,” she says.

A cheerful Kelly Lawler loves the idea that her daughter is celebrating her attributes and also building confidence.

“Kids at school are not always so kind with kids that are different, but Johanna has learned to make it a positive thing, and have confidence in herself, and focus on the good things that can come from being tall — like playing volleyball and basketball.”

She laughs, and adds: “You might as well have fun with it if you have a big foot.”

As far as the future, young Johanna Lawyer is not dragging her feet, so to speak.

She can’t wait to grow taller than her 20-year-old sister who is about the same height as her now. (Kelly Lawler guesstimates that her daughter Johanna will end up being anywhere from 6’2 to 6’4 in height as an adult.)

The younger Lawler also dreams of one day playing Division 1 college volleyball for Cal Poly or USC. Meanwhile, she looks forward to trying out for her third year with the RAGE club team. In addition to her athletics, Lawler also has found the time at school to take part in band, where she plays tuba, and enroll in the Dual Immersion program for Spanish.

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