the Cariboo Advisor Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Stamps get some help to win Coy Cup Angie Mindus Cariboo Advisor When the Stampeders battled through all the odds to win the Coy Cup in Kitimat last month, they didn’t have homeice advantage but they certainly felt at home with their Number One fan, F r a n c i s Johnson, in the stands cheering them on. Anyone who has attended a Stampeders game ever, will know who Johnson is. He sits faithfully in the stands, at home or away, drumming with his traditional First Nations drum to let the team know he’s behind them. “I do it because they tell me they get really motivated by the drumming,” Johnson says. “The sound of the drum (tradition-
Williams Lake Stampeders 2013 Coy Cup Champions: Brent McIsaac, Nathan Zurak, Andrew Fisher, Aaron Zurak, Brandon Cox, Dylan Richardson, Kelly Kohlen GM, Francis Johnson Jr., Francis Johnson Sr., Don Hanson Assistant GM, Stewart Bell Trainer, Marko Zurak, Dino Lecomte, Tyler Fuller, Cody Lockwood, Mike Kohlen, David DeBeers, Justin Foote, Travis Flaherty, Stuart Sasges, David Gore, Jassi Sangha, Dexx Davies. Absent: Tyrel Lucas, Matt Lees, Bill McGinnis, Matt Lees, Jhed Gerrier, Owen Sutton, Duncan Peeman, Mike Young.
Angie Mindus photo
An elated Francis Johnson shows off his gold medal given to him for being one of the Williams Lake Stampeders most dedicated fans. Johnson helped drum the Stamps to victory last month in Kitimat at the Coy Cup Championships. ally) brings peace and strength.” Johnson’s son, Francis Johnson Jr., plays centre for
the Stamps and is the team’s Assistant Captain. He was a key player in the last two games during the Coy
Cup finals. After the Coy Cup win, Johnson performed a traditional honour song for the team and received his very own gold medal from the game and a championship ball cap. “These guys, I’m so proud of all of them, they are really hard workers. I’ve seen their ups and downs and this is really a once in a lifetime team… In my heart I knew they could win the Coy
Cup.” Johnson says his son is the only First Nations player on the Stampeders team since the all-Native Lac La Hache Tomahawks were formed, with his son choosing to stay on with the Stamps. “He’s played with these guys for years. They are all really close. He couldn’t leave them.” Johnson says the team’s journey to the Coy Cup was a battle, as the players faced injury, having to miss games due to work as well as some becoming fathers and also the lack of home-ice advantage leading up to the Coy Cup due to
the City strike, which forced critical games to be played away in Quesnel. Johnson faced his own challenges along the way to the Coy Cup, taking the brunt of bad behaviour from other team’s fans. “I took flack from the fans,” Johnson says of having objects thrown at him during the finals while he drummed. “But (I felt) I was taking it for the team. Our team was winning and (the fans) had to take it out on someone.” This weekend Johnson will gather with the team once again at the Stamp’s year end awards banquet to honour the
team and remember the hard fought battle for the cup. “They played hard no matter what. They deserve a lot of credit for it,” says Johnson. “This is a once-in-alifetime championship team and I’m proud and honoured to be apart of it.” Longtime volunteer Don Hanson says Francis is certainly a dedicated fan for the Stamps. “He's a great fan,” says Hansen. “The guys love him, and everybody certainly knows who he is.” The banquet for the Stampeders is being held this Saturday at Boston Pizza at 6 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.
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