Parents are always looking for their kids to find something they truly love and when Evan Johnson was in Grade 8, his parents watched him do just that.
Johnson is the Regina born and raised offensive lineman that will be playing for the Redblacks in Sunday’s Grey Cup game. He played high school at Campbell Collegiate and went on to play for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
It all started one fateful day about ten years ago. A Regina Minor Football team practiced across the street from the Johnson house and one of Evan’s best friends played on it.
“They were short a player and (Evan’s friend) came running across the street to see if Evan could play and he went over there and never looked back,” Evan’s mom Laurie said in a phone interview from Edmonton.
“He begged his mom,” added Evan’s dad Marlon. “She finally relented and he went over there and absolutely loved it and it just went from there.”
Laurie, like many moms, worried that her little boy would get injured playing football, but Evan calms her by reminding her he’s really not that little.
“It’s been amazing because I’ve always said, ‘be careful those guys are really big out there and he said, ‘I’m a pretty big guy too mom,’” she laughed.
“I just see him as my little boy, but I recognize he’s able to hold his own out there and he’s doing what he loves.”
At six-feet-four-inches tall and 280 pounds, Johnson was taken in the first round of the 2017 CFL Draft.
His parents read the mock drafts leading up to the big day and saw he was likely to go in the third round, but then the night before the draft, he was projected to go in the first round.
“That day was so exciting,” Laurie said. “We just weren’t sure how it was going to work out and when they called his name he was so excited.”
And so were his parents, so excited that it didn’t matter one bit that he was going all the way to Ottawa and not to the hometown Roughriders.
What does matter is that he’s grown into a well-balanced young man who was able to juggle being an athlete and getting an engineering degree, something that sticks out to Marlon as a huge accomplishment.
“To balance the commitment and workload with athletics and the academics, I think is quite an achievement because I couldn’t do it,” Marlon chuckled.
And of course even more than that, they know their son is happier.
“You just hope he gets to showcase his talent and is given a chance,” Marlon said. “The opportunity has definitely been given to him and we as parents are quite excited about it and he’s just loving it.”
“Whatever he did we’d be happy with it,” Laurie added. “It just so happened that he’s gone through the CFL and he’s succeeded and he’s just so happy.”
The 106th Grey Cup between the Redblacks and Stampeders kicks off at 5 p.m.