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Aircraft Charter Solutions PoW - Juwan Johnson

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Aircraft Charter Solutions PoW - Juwan Johnson

Southern California’s HS 7s season wrapped up with the San Pasqual 7s at the beginning of August, and, no surprise, Los Angeles won.

It’s been a weird summer for LA, as the team itself was organized by players. Captain Juwan Johnson got the kids together to play, and registered for the tournaments, but what Johnson didn’t know was that the Serevi-sponsored Serevi Series required a separate registration. So while Los Angeles won in San Pascual, and the Gator 7s, they did not feature at all in the Serevi Series standings, which were won by Back Bay.

Regardless, Los Angeles, and especially Johnson, have had a fine year. The LA club took their players largely from the Mira Costa and St. John Bosco single-school teams. Bosco won the SoCal Varsity White division in February, and edged Mira Costa in the semis to do so. LA then lost to Back Bay in the U18 club final in April.

The LA coaching staff figured that was it for the year, and coach Chris Gleiter said that lack of participation in 7s in 2014 prompted the coaches to expect the same this year. If the players showed commitment, though, the coaches would be there.

That’s where Juwan Johnson came in. The hooker, center, No. 8 and captain for Mira Costa and Los Angeles, Johnson has have a brilliant season in 2015, and he was the driving force behind getting the LA players out. 

Johnson in action this season.
Juwan Johnson
Juwan Johnson
Juwan Johnson

“It was through Juwan’s leadership that this happened,” said Gleiter. “He got the team together and registered for the first tournament. He didn’t - none of us did - realize that he had to register for the Serevi Series in addition. But he did a phenomenal job.”

“We had some guys playing football in the summer and some guys don’t have a lot of money for the entry fees, but I got them to come out, and it was fun,” said Johnson, who added that it wasn’t just a case of showing up, but a case of having the right attitude. “In the past we’ve had some really good athletes, but we don’t play as a team. They didn’t listen and they didn’t pass the ball. This year, we built trust from the get-go. We worked together to use all of the athletes we have. We passed more, and I think the key thing for us was we won our kickoffs. We didn’t let the opposition get the ball and that was big.”

If Johnson sounds to you a bit like a coach, you aren’t alone - the Mira Costa HS graduate was lauded by his coaches throughout the season for his leadership, as a player, as an example, and as a rugby thinker. 

“I was playing football in high school but my junior year I was injured,” said Johnson. “We’d just started rugby at Costa so I figured I’d go play rugby to get the football season I never had. It changed my life. I loved it.”

The 5-9, 220-pound Johnson was a perfect fit as a hooker and power runner for Mira Costa. He participated in the Eagle Impact Rugby Academy in Southern California, and continued to build his game.

“It was great,” he said. “I met new people, new coaches. I learned so much. Coming back to playing this year I learned a lot as a leader - I learned new aspects of leadership, and working with the 7s team this year was a new experience. I always have to adapt to the new situation, and all I wanted was to make it a true team effort. That was my main goal - the good thing is, the guys listened.”

Johnson will attend Oregon State University in the fall, ready to play rugby and study Nuclear Engineering. Maybe that's appropriate because the OSU mascot is the hard-working Beaver, and the future Nuclear Engineer was certainly the nucleus of the Los Angeles U18 club's efforts this summer, and the spring as well. Now he leaves a winning rugby team - two winning rugby teams, in fact - behind him both the better for his influence.

 

Juwan Johnson is our Aircraft Charter Solutions Player of the Week.