Jon and Shawn Capon are high-school sweethearts who went the distance. Theirs, however, is no “love at first sight” story. They attended Charles Woodward High School in Bethesda for more than three years before 1976, their senior year, wehn Jon truly caught Shawn’s attention as Woodward’s starting soccer goalie.
A tragedy first brought Jon Capon to the area. His parents were divorced, and he was 14 years old and living with his mother in New York when she was struck by a car. His relatives in Rockville, took guardianship.
“We were all anxious to see what the [new] kids were going to be like,” Shawn said. She got her early look at Jon when both attended Woodward, but there were no initial fireworks. “I guess we kind of ran in different crowds,” Shawn said. At first, she thought, “he was kind of awkward.”
By their senior year, though, Shawn started at goalie for Woodward’s soccer team, that won the 1976 state championship. “Then, of course, I took notice,” she said.
In February of their senior years, they went on their first date, to a birthday party for one of their classmates. They were a full-fledged couple by May of their senior year, and went to the Woodward prom together. “We had the best times together — we laughed our heads off,” Shawn said.
But within a few months, Shawn was a freshman at Virginia Tech, and Jon was at West Virginia University on a soccer scholarship. Jon sometimes hitchhiked rides to visit Shawn, 250 miles away. (Don’t try this at home — or in college.)
“Back then it was so different. We didn’t have e-mail, we didn’t have cell phones,” Shawn said. One long-distance phone call each week incurred the wrath of her father. “I think it’s easier to stay together [long distance] now.”
They were on-again, off-again for two years, and midway through college, Jon broke up with her. Shawn dated other men, but she kept comparing them to Jon — unfavorably. “In the back of my mind, I always knew I would get back together with him,” she said.
THAT HAPPENED in Shawn’s senior year, when Virginia Tech hosted a soccer tournament. Among the teams competing? West Virginia, of course. At a time when intercollegiate athletes could still get away with it, Jon and several of his teammates partied until sunrise with Shawn and some of her friends. By the time Jon returned to West Virginia, he and Shawn were an item again, and there would be no more “off again” phases.
Jon Capon redshirted at West Virginia, and graduated after five years. As Shawn had done a year earlier, he moved back home after graduation in 1982. That following summer, the two went to Martha’s Vineyard for a summer vacation. Wading in the ocean, Jon warned Shawn he was about to dunk her in the water. “When he dunked me, he said, ‘When you come up, I’m going to ask you if you want to marry me,’” Shawn said.
Shawn wasn’t amused, and went back up to the beach and read People magazine. Jon couldn’t believe what he saw. “What are you doing?” he said. “I just proposed to you!”
They were married in Washington, D.C., and later moved to Potomac. They have four children — Jackie, a University of Delaware junior; Lindsey, a University of Florida freshman; James, a sophomore at Winston Churchill High School (and also a soccer goalie); and Julsey, also a Churchill sophomore and a varsity soccer player.