Darian Johnson has a tendency to toss himself, Superman-style, at any incoming soccer ball.
The 17-year-old goalie, who participated in a Whitecaps goaltending workshop with Vernon-based coach Kai Tolpinrud this weekend, inevitably ended up with minor bruises from his heroic flails, and was starting to find their effectiveness less than desirable.
“Basically, though, if I tuck my knee down it protects me and the ball,” Johnson explained. “I land on my side and tuck the ball underneath me and then nobody can get in there to kick it out.”
Tolpinrud said he discourages the players from making “magnificent” saves, and shows them how to rely on positioning and planning to reliably keep the ball out of the net.
Johnson calls his new technique the “Sideways Superman”, and said he learned it from Tolpinrud this weekend. He said he plans to use this technique long-term, and added that Tolpinrud’s tutelage gave him a better understanding of how to angle his body in relationship to the net.
“He’s spectacular,” said Johnson, of Tolpinrud. “Kai’s taught me more because he’s been in a league in Norway. It’s sick. He’s actually played up in the higher leagues and that’s where I’m headed.”
Tolpinrud played for the Norwegian Premier League Stromsgodset for four years. His particular specialty within the Whitecaps organization is goalkeeping. He praised the Nelson players.
“There’s nobody screwing around. These kids are serious about the sport. Everyone listening, not interrupting,” he said. “It was fantastic,” he said.
Sam Heap, who was coaching the kids on Sunday afternoon, said the boys should feel immensely privileged to have Tolpinrud in attendance. He led the boys in a round of applause to thank him for coming out.