Tawnie Johnson would have welcomed the opportunity to suit up for the Haudenosaunee Nation at the world girls’ under-19 field lacrosse tournament. Johnson, whose father is Onondaga, will participate at the world event, which runs Aug. 3-13 in Hannover, Germany.
But the 17-year-old will play for the Canadian entry instead of the Haudenosaunee Nation side.
Johnson, who lives in Caledonia, Ontario, said some uncertainties over the Haudenosaunee Nation team forced her to try out for the Canadian squad. She had heard rumblings the squad might not even attend the world tournament.
So she decided to try out for the Canadian team, which began its tryout process back in 2009. It named its final 18-player roster, which included Johnson, this past January.
She is the only Aboriginal player on the Canadian team. Johnson is hoping to return with some hardware from the world tournament.
“I know we’ve worked very hard and have been consistently improving,” she said of the Canadian squad. “Our goal is to bring a medal home and I believe we have the ability to do that.”
Johnson said she was somewhat surprised she made the Canadian team. But Scott Teeter, the head coach of the club, felt it was a no-brainer to include her on the squad.
“Tawnie is one of the top players in Canada,” said Teeter, who is also the head coach for the Canisius College women’s field lacrosse team in Buffalo.
Teeter believes Johnson, who will play the attack position, will be one of Canada’s top scorers at the world tournament, which will feature 12 entrants.
“She’s a key component to our offence,” Teeter said of Johnson. “We like her size. She’s fairly tall (5-foot-8). And she’s got a pretty decent shot.”
Kathy Smith, the chairperson of the Haudenosaunee Nation women’s lacrosse board, said Johnson would have been a welcome member on its team this year.
“She definitely would have helped us,” Smith said. “For whatever reason though she chose to play for Team Canada.”
By making the Canadian club Johnson thought that meant she would be prevented from ever representing the Haudenosaunee Nation at international events. But a new transfer rule implemented last summer means players who have competed for one country can suit up for another team at future events. Johnson said she’s not sure if she would simply continue representing Canada or make the switch to the Haundenosaunee Nation club.
“I will make that decision when the time comes,” she said.
Following the world tournament in Germany, Johnson will return home and prepare for her first collegiate season. She’s accepted an athletic scholarship offer from New York’s Syracuse University. Besides playing for the women’s lacrosse team at Syracuse she’s also be studying in the school’s social works program.