On Friday, October 7, in a game against Loyalist College, the Cambrian Golden Shield’s own Tiffany Johnson of Val Caron entered the record books as the top scorer in OCAA women’s soccer with a total of 58 career goals (and counting). Already number one in the league in scoring this season, the two goals she netted on Friday bring her season count to 24.
We recently caught up with the top striker to ask her a few questions about life, soccer, and what’s next on the horizon.
Q: How did you get involved with soccer?
A: My parents put me in soccer when I was 8 and I played houseleague until high school. I played for Confederation Secondary School in grade 9, then for Bishop Alexander Carter Catholic Secondary School in Hanmer starting in grade 10. The summer of grade 10, I also started playing for the Sudbury Canadians as a defender.
In August 2013, I began my postsecondary career at Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia where I was recruited as a defender. After coach Ness Timmons saw my potential and speed, that did not turn out to be my position. He put me in the role of an outside midfielder where I mostly utilized my speed to carry the ball up the wing and cross it in front of the net for the strikers.
I started for Cambrian in 2014 where Giuseppe [Politi, head coach] and the rest of the coaching staff saw different potential in me, potential I didn’t even know I had. They put me in the top striker position where I never played before so I didn’t think I would be able to fill that role, but the position just came so naturally to me and I further learned that I had the ability to place the ball in the back of the net.
This is my third year at Cambrian and because of the coaching staff’s guidance and knowledge, I have continued to accomplish goals I never thought were achievable both for myself and the program. My success is definitely a reflection of the coaches who put everything into seeing me excel and my teammates who help me achieve everything I’ve accomplished to this day.
Q: Do you have any pregame rituals?
A: I don’t have any specific rituals, but I do get really nervous before every match. As a team, we listen to music and just dance in the change room to shake off some of the pregame jitters.
Q: What’s your favourite food or meal?
A: As an athlete knowing I have a game the next day, I like to eat pasta to carb up and give me energy. The morning of [a game], I’m usually too nervous to stomach anything but I try to eat a banana, fruit smoothie, or a protein bar.
Q: Who’s your favourite Cambrian staff member?
A: My coaching staff all go out of their way to see us succeed individually and as a team, and for that I appreciate them all equally for their constant time and dedication to this program and the players.
Q: Who’s your favourite athlete?
A: I have many favourite athletes but I recently read a biography about Clara Hughes who is a Canadian Olympic medallist in both cycling and speed skating and what she had to go through as an individual, the obstacles she had to face, the depression she had to fight through her whole life, really made me admire her, and made me feel very grateful for where I came from and all the opportunities I have been given up to this point.
Q: What are you going to miss most after you graduate?
A: I will definitely miss playing soccer the most. It’s one of my greatest passions and it’s something that I continue to progress in regardless of my age. It has taught me so much about myself: how to deal with anxiety and pressure, how to push myself when I feel like giving up, and it has given me such mental strength that will assist me for the rest of my life. It has shown me that people can truly be happy for you even if they don’t get the “fame” and I know that I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the support, talent, positivity, and knowledge of those around me.
Q: What advice would you give to a high schooler who’s thinking about getting involved in varsity athletics?
A: If you’re passionate about it, do it! Team and individual sports teach you so much about yourself: your strengths, your weaknesses, being able to take criticism, and you develop relationships that can potentially last a lifetime. For me, it helps me get through school: when you want to make healthy choices physically, and it definitely benefits you mentally. Whether you’re good or not, it pushes you to try harder and gives you goals you can practice achieving, which will assist you for your future goals. It teaches you not to give up when you truly want something.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Obviously, I would like to continue to play soccer at a higher level. Is that achievable? I guess we’ll have to see what’s in store.
I’m at a point in my life where I have complete faith in the universe and just letting things happen as they are supposed to. I know I need to put in work if I want to go somewhere and that’s why I set myself some goals for this season which are achievable. So we will see what the future holds for me, but soccer is something I am passionate about and I am ready to face the next challenge, whatever that may be.
Watch Tiffany score her record-breaking 57th career goal:
This is a big one. Your new OCAA all time goal leader! Well done Tiff! pic.twitter.com/oFw5A9Mcs7
— Cambrian Soccer (@CambrianSoccer) October 7, 2016