Senior Zander Johnson represents the red, white and blue

DGS+senior+Zander+Johnson+is+a+Long-Stick-Midfielder+%28LSM%29.+He+defends+%2366+on+Team+Canada+attempting+to+take+the+ball+away%2C+preventing+a+goal+late+in+the+game.+

Courtesy of US Lacrosse

DGS senior Zander Johnson is a Long-Stick-Midfielder (LSM). He defends #66 on Team Canada attempting to take the ball away, preventing a goal late in the game.

Downers Grove South senior Zander Johnson quickly put his cleat in the turf, changing direction, scooping up the loose ground ball, taking it towards Team Canada’s goal.

Johnson is the first player in DGS lacrosse history to get recognized as All-American as well as being selected for the USA U15 and U19 Development Team.

Making Team USA for the second time is something that I take a lot of pride in. I’ve put so much work into this sport and there’s truly no better feeling than stepping on the field with USA written across my chest.”

— Zander Johnson

 

Johnson has had a stick in hand since sixth grade and never seemed to put it down. The fastest game on two feet quickly took over Johnson’s life as he dedicated summer after summer to it. His hard work and dedication quickly paid off, becoming one of the most recognized players in the state of Illinois as well as committing to play Division l at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to continue his career at the collegiate level.

“UMass was always one of my top schools as I started looking into potential colleges, but one thing that I think set it apart was the professional standard that the university holds itself to, the academic opportunities as well as the athletics were truly the perfect fit for me and I could not be happier with my decision,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s parents have been supporting their son from the very start, but weren’t expecting any of this to come from a sport their son simply has a passion for. Mother Rebecca Johnson explained what the sport of lacrosse brought into her son’s life.

“Unknowingly, a platform for [Zander] to be a role model for younger generations in a non-traditional lacrosse region,” Johnson said.

Johnson has also worked to give back to the community and grow the sport of lacrosse in Illinois along with the Midwest as a whole. DGS head lacrosse coach Shon Zawlocki couldn’t speak more highly of the things he has done to grow the program that has been growing in popularity throughout the years.

“Zander has made an immeasurable impact on the lacrosse community in Downers Grove. He was recognized as a first team All-Conference player his freshman year, the first ever player from Downers Grove. After the 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19, he added two other first team All-Conference awards and All-American… all programs are only as strong as those involved and right now Zander and his teammates are continually raising the standard,” Zawlocki said.

While Johnson has numerous accolades on the field, the true life lessons and other skills that can be applied even after his playing career is something that he does not take for granted.

“It taught me how to make difficult sacrifices in order to achieve my goals. Not only that but the importance of discipline and relentless work ethic… I have experienced first hand how a team that may not be as individually talented as the other beats the better team because of their ability to swallow their ego and work together,” Johnson said.

Johnson is teammates with his cousin Bryce Peake, who is also a senior at DGS. Both play on their travel team, East Ave, along with DGS’ lacrosse team.

“I like knowing an Olympian. Not many people can say that. He keeps breaking seals for lacrosse players in the Midwest,” Peake said.

Johnson will be taking the field in the red, white and blue once again this October in Sparks, Maryland playing a series of games against the Iroquois National Team as well as Team Canada.