Porter Wilson Award - 2000
Rodney Johnnson - Jacksonville, Florida U.S.A.
Rodney Johnson, affectionately known as Mr. J. or Coach J to his layers and colleagues in the youth development circuit has a passion for girls flag football. A determined little nine - year old girl who wanted to play football, not become a cheerleader spawned this deep-rooted love. That was the beginning of the legacy Coach J. has left in Jacksonville, Florida.
Why the IWFFA chose Rodney
The IWFFA received a phone call back in 1997, while producing the San Franciso Women's Flag Football Tournament. It was a man (Rodney Johnson) who had a group of girls, which he had been coaching flag football. This group of girls, were ready to compete, but had no competition. For the first time, the IWFFA was asked to offer competition for girls. We then contacted the local youth organization, Oakland Parks & Rec to see if they could pull a group of girls together to compete against Ronn's flag football team. Thanks to Melvin Landry, they were, and we had our first girls flag football competition whose ages ranged from 9 yrs to 17 yrs old. It was the two teams of girls playing their first game on Saturday, and championship on Sunday. The Florida Lady Jaguars (Rodney's team) won the championship game (in overtime) 19 - 18 over the Oakland Lady Raiders.
This was the beginning of our girls division.
What was interesting in the girls games, was the response of the women also playing in the tournament. To watch "shortie" the smallest half back we had ever seen, run hard and fast with the ball, then get up as quickly as she fell to continue her run, was very motivational. The adults were certainly inspired by the drive, enthusiasm and new energy from this new group of young players.
After the San Francisco tournament, the IWFFA understood the importance of "planting the seed " for women's flag football and to offer every female the opportunity to play flag football. The IWFFA then made a decision to conduct a tour in the U.S. to help start new teams and leagues for women, but also focusing on girls flag football. So, in 1999, the IWFFA drove in their 33 foot RV, all across America for 8 months visiting as many as 33 cities and working with new groups such as: Boys & Girls Club, Girl Scouts, YWCA, Public schools and church organizations. It was a very successful tour and would not have been thought of if not for this person: Rodney Johnnson.
|Jacksonville Lady Jaguars take second in Kelly McGillis Classic - Bed Race 1999||
Florida Lady Jaguars / Championship Team 1998
Oakland, California Tournament
(Rodd is center of photo)
Lady Jag Defender inches from flag in the 1998 Key West Tournament