Jennifer  Johnson

Jennifer “JJ” Johnson grew up in Brooklin, Ontario. As a player, she had an incredible career beginning with playing boys’ box lacrosse for the Whitby Minor Lacrosse Association spanning 10 years and then transitioning to the women’s’ field.

 

JJ played for a multitude of Provincial Ontario teams (both junior and senior) and then made her way onto the international stage playing for Team Canada in 1995 (as a junior co-captain) and as a senior in 2001 and 2005.

In between national teams, JJ played for Penn State from 1996-1999, being named in her sophomore year to both the NCAA Mid-Atlantic All Region 1st Team and the USILA Women All-American 3rd Team. In her junior year, JJ was a USWLA All- American-Honourable mention, Brine/IWLCA All-American 2nd Team, leading scorer with 73 points and a team high of 49 goals. JJ rounded out her senior year as team captain, leading scorer with 70 points and a team high of 47 goals. She led Penn State to the NCAA semifinals and was named Brine/IWLCA All-American 1st Team.

JJ was 3rd in scoring in the 2001 IFWLA World Cup and co-captained the 2005 National Team. She was named an All-World Team member (one of 3 attackers and the only Canadian), led all players in caused turnovers (11) and ground balls (28) and was ranked amongst the leaders in points (20), assists (8), and draw controls (18).

JJ then went on to coach as an assistant from 2000-02 at Cornell University, UConn from 2002-04 as a graduate assistant coach, a head coach at Vermont in 2016 and the head coach of the U19 Canadian Team in 2007.

Jennifer was deservingly inducted into the Whitby Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

What did you first think about and feel when hearing the news of your induction into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame?

Wow! To be recognized at the highest level of the game really touches the heart. It’s something I dreamed about as a kid, and now to be real, is a pretty incredible feeling.

I also felt gratitude. I wouldn’t be receiving this award without the support from so many people. Coaches, teammates, competitors, friends and family……..I am so grateful for it all!

What are one or two special or memorable moments or achievements that you feel were special highlights in your lacrosse career?

In my senior year at Penn State, we beat a higher seeded Princeton in OT, in the NCAA Quarterfinals. This game was one of the most competitive and exciting games I ever played in and with that win, we went to the NCAA Final Four. It was such a high note to go out on, by playing in a Final Four my senior year.

In the 2001 World Cup in England, we were losing at half time to Wales in a quarterfinal game. I think it was 2-5 at the half. The coaching staff tore a strip off us at half time (which was very much needed), and we mounted a comeback to win 7-5. That win put us in the bronze medal game. This win was a heartfelt one, in which every player on the team contributed to.

Were there any critical decisions that changed your path?

 After I graduated from Penn State, I decided to pursue coaching in the NCAA. Coaching was such an incredible experience and allowed me to give back to the sport. While I was still playing and coaching, the coaching experience made me a better lacrosse player.

Spending the time to analyze the game and be a spectator, made me a smarter player. So not only did coaching allow me to become a better lacrosse player, but it also allowed me to mentor some incredible young women, travel the world, and meet some incredible people.

Are there special individuals whose support or influence made a difference in your journey?

Honestly, I am thankful for it all. There were so many individuals who supported me both on and off the field.

But I want to thank my coaches and teammates in the Whitby Minor Lacrosse System.

Although I only played box lacrosse for 3 years, the skills and the drive were instilled then. Being one of the only girls, playing Rep Lacrosse, taught me to elevate my game in order to be successful.

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