Name: Shawn Johnson
Position: QB / DB
Hometown: Dartmouth, NS
Starting on August 16 in Gothenburg, Sweden, Shawn Johnson and the rest of Canada’s Men’s Flag Football National Team will get the opportunity for redemption after losing in the dying seconds to Italy in the bronze medal game at the 2010 IFAF Flag Football World Championships on home soil in Ottawa.
A phone call from former touch football competitor Randy Rudel began Shawn’s flag football journey.
“He told me that Football Nova Scotia was planning to send a team to the 2010 Senior Men’s Flag Invitational, explained Johnson. “What really intrigued me was that the winning team would get to represent Canada at the Flag Football World Championship that summer in Ottawa.”
Shawn and his Nova Scotia teammates began practicing in February before heading off to Hamilton in April for the 2010 national selection tournament. Nova Scotia’s entry comprised largely of converted touch football players met Quebec based, St-Jean Wolfpack in the finals.
“We were down 19-14 to the St-Jean Wolfpack, whose team consisted of players who previously won gold for Team Canada at the 2008 World Championships,” said Johnson. “With just 6 seconds remaining and the clock running, I threw a long touchdown pass to win 20-19. It took me about thirty seconds to figure out what just happened — the place was going crazy.”
With the win, Shawn and the rest of his squad had earned the right to represent Canada at the World Championships in Ottawa.
Johnson soon realized he was up against stiff competition. “The skill level in 2010 was incredible,” he said. “It was just a privilege to be around so many great athletes, men and women. The European’s play flag football year round with numerous tournaments — it’s huge over there.”
On the final day of competition, a semi-final loss to the eventual gold medalist, Team USA, set up a bronze medal showdown with Italy. Just like Johnson’s team had done to St-Jean, Italy took the lead late to win the game.
“To lose the bronze medal game with 1 second left really hurts,” said Shawn. “It took our team a long time to get over and are extremely excited for the chance at redemption”
The loss fuels this experienced squad which returns 6 from 2010. “We started practicing in March; beating up one another twice a week for five months,” explained Johnson.
“A lot goes into preparing for a world tournament. There are the countless hours in the gym, practicing hard on the field, and sacrificing family time and work commitments.”
Canada starts its road to redemption with round-robin play on August 16th. Their group includes the Americans whom they’ll face to close out round robin play.
Johnson and his teammates are eager to return to the tournament for the second time. “We’re getting excited about the chance to see how good we are against the rest of the world.”
Eager to build on a fourth place finish, Canada opens round-robin play against Switzerland on August 16. If all goes according to plan they just may meet up with the Americans or Italians in the finals.