Chilliwack goaltender going next level with Thompson Rivers University

Sardis secondary school soccer star Jackson Gardner will join the WolfPack next fall.

A Falcon will join the WolfPack next season as Jackson Gardner makes the next-level leap.

The Sardis secondary school goaltender has commited to Thompson Rivers University after impressing at an evaluation camp in July.

“I went there (Kamloops) for a weekend in the summer, played in one game and two training sessions and they offered me a spot on the team,” the 16 year old said.

Gardner is an early signing.

His high school season has just begun and there wasn’t any pressing urgency to get things done.

But many players let these things linger throughout the season and suffer the effects of stress and anxiety. Gardner prefered to get it out of the way early.

“I wasn’t expecting to get a real offer until March or around that area, but the perfect one came about,” Gardner said. “After doing research I didn’t see a better one coming so I locked it down early.

“I guess the time was right for me.”

John Antulov is the TRU coach who is gambling on the athleticism of the young keeper. As far as Gardner knows, Antulov only saw him play at that summer camp, and he’s grateful the coach was willing to take a chance on him.

Antulov has already had an impact on Gardner’s game.

“During the first training session, I can’t remember the exact words he said to me but it was something like, ‘Jackson, get out there!’” he recalled.

Antulov likes his keepers to play with their feet and function as an outlet for a defender under pressure.

He doesn’t want his keepers playing on their goal-lines and that’s normally not an issue with Gardner.

But the circumstances of the tryout had Jackson playing cautious until Antulov barked at him.

“And right after he said that I came out of my shell and started playing my game,” Gardner said. “Honestly, before that camp, playing with my feet was probably one of my weaknesses, but ever since then I’ve tried to implement that into my game and it’s been working out really well for me.

The teenager, who came up through the Chilliwack FC system and has played for Surrey United in the B.C. High Performance League the last four seasons, sagely says that goaltending is an easy job to do but a hard job to do well.

Jackson follows in the footsteps of his dad, John, who was a university (Bishop’s) and semi-pro goaltender. John’s been a fantastic resource for tips on technique and knows more than anyone else the pressure that comes with the position.

“I’ve been playing goalie since I was 10 years old, so six years now, and I started playing it because of my dad,” Gardner said. “I keep playing it because it’s so much fun.

“You are differentiated from everyone else on the field where you can use your hands and you are the main guy.

“It is a lot of pressure, but it always pays off.”

Because he commited so early, Gardner is able to focus 100 per cent on getting ready for the next level.

He feels he needs to get stronger to deal with the bigger, physical forwards who will come rumbling into his 18 yard box.

“In university soccer they hit hard and you need to be able to take those,” he said. “I’m already pretty strong, but I still need some work and I’m starting a training program to get ready.

“I’m just excited to get started.”

One of his Sardis coaches, Shaun Calver, has no doubt he’ll succeed at TRU.

“Jackson is a great shot stopper who rarely spills the ball, he is great with the ball at his feet and distributes from the back very well,” Calver said. “On and off the field nothing fazes him. He always has a smile on his face and that’s why he’s one of our team captains.”

Get TRU men’s soccer info online at tru.ca/athletics/teams/msoc.html

Just Posted

Fraser Valley coach keeps coming back to guide kids at the BC Summer Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Fire at Cultus Lake closes the road

Vehicle fire caused column of black smoke to billow over the lake

Man arrested in Maple Ridge in connection with Victoria-area murder

Daniel Creagh faces second-degree murder charge in death of Joseph Gauthier

Hot weather returning to Chilliwack

Temperatures expected to climb into the low 30s starting Sunday

UPDATE: Abbotsford police seek info from public after man, 32, found dead

IHIT identifies victim as Sukhpreet Grewal, who they say was known to police

BC Wildfire merges two Okanagan wildfires

Large plume of smoke seen over the fire was a controlled event

Gold medallists at BC Games only trained together for 1 day

Ryan Goudron, Nathan Chan, Owen Pinto and Praise Aniamaka from Zone 4 - Fraser River ran together for the first time

Five taken to hospital after one of two Coquihalla accidents

One airlifted in critical condition, four taken via ambulance in stable condition

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Francesco Molinari wins British Open at Carnoustie

It is his first win at a major and the first by an Italian

Trio overcomes adversity at the BC Games

Zone 4 girl’s 3x3 basketball team fought through injuries and conflicting schedules

Most Read