MANCHESTER, England _ It takes 10 fingers and a lot of toes to count all the championship teams on which Shawn Williams has played or coached, yet, his favourite lacrosse memory is not about his own accomplishments.
It’s right there in his Team Canada website bio: “Watching my kids play.’’
The satisfaction he gets from that is supreme, and being able to share this world field lacrosse tournament experience with his 10-year-old son Dyson on the field with him will surely become part of his favourite lacrosse memory.
“It’s special having Dyson here as a ballboy,’’ he says.
He coaches Dyson’s team back home. How he squeezes coaching novices into his busy summer schedule is a puzzling feat because, besides playing on the national team, he’s been playing field lacrosse for the Toronto Nationals and box lacrosse for the Brampton Excelsiors.
Williams, 36, loves the sport because “every time you get on that floor or field you get to be a kid.’’
“You go through spells where you think you’re going to play forever but, obviously, that’s not realistic so I try to enjoy each time I put on my gear or just playing around with the stick,’’ he says.
Williams recalls that he was 3 going on 4 when his dad, who was playing for the OLA’s Brooklin Redmen, registered him at the Toronto Beaches club.
“He got me in and away we went from there,’’ he says.
The very first of the many championship lacrosse teams he’s played on was a Scarborough peewee squad that won the Ontario title. After playing for a Scarborough Jr. B team that won the national Founders Cup title, he took up field lacrosse at Brock University in St. Catharines and helped the Badgers win championships in his five years on the field. Team Canada GM Johnny Mouradian was his coach. Williams would coach the Badgers for five years after graduating.
“His leadership qualities were apparent back then,’’ says Mouradian. “He helped us build that Brock program and he went on to win championships at every level.’’
He helped Canada win its first world field lacrosse championship in 28 years in 2006 in London, Ont., and is a co-captain with the 2010 team here.
“He’s one of our high-calibre guys,’’ says Mouradian. “When he talks, the other players listen.
“He’s a teacher so he knows how to mentor young players.’’
Williams is a phys-ed teacher at Donald A. Wilson Secondary School in Whitby and captains the NLL pro indoor Rochester Knighthawks during the winter. He won NLL titles with the 1999 Toronto Rock and the 2007 Rochester Knighthawks.
He played for Canada’s world-champion 2003 and 2007 indoor teams, won the Mann Cup as a Brooklin player in 2000, was an assistant coach with the Six Nations Arrows when they won the Minto Cup in 2007, and he was on Brampton’s Mann Cup winner last year.
It’s an impressive background in the sport, which is one of the many reasons why younger players look up to him.
“I’m expected to take a leadership role _ kind of show that you’ve got to do whatever it takes to get the job done and accept any role that’s given to you,’’ he says.
Watching the players build cohesion since landing in Manchester has been a treat.
“It happened with our team early,’’ he says. “Sometimes you have trouble with that.
“A lot of the guys are used to being THE GUY and they come here and they do whatever it takes for the team. That’s pretty well been the attitude right from our first exhibition game.’’
How long will he keep playing?
“As long as I can,’’ he says. “I feel good. As you get older you get smarter about how to prepare and how to get ready for a season. You have nicks and bruises you have to deal with and you just go from there. I don’t have a number in my head. I’ll just go till I can’t, I guess.’’
And then his kids will take over. Dyson will lead the way. Daughter Dylana, 6, and son Tucker, 4, also have started playing organized lacrosse in Whitby. Maybe someday they’ll play for Canada, too.
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