Dike Dresses Out


Just one year ago, the North Platte Bulldog soccer team was gearing to go for another season not unlike this one. Ryan Letourneau, who is now attending Concordia University on a soccer scholarship, was leading the team with ten goals in his first three games, and the ever consistent Will Phillips, who is on a soccer scholarship to Nebraska Wesleyan, was guarding the net like a steel wall. Phillips broke just about every goalie record NPHS had to offer including Most shutouts in a career, most saves in a game, and most saves in a career. But this isn’t 2017 anymore, and Coach Danny Whitney had a decision to make: who would take the place of varsity keeper?

For a while, the position remained up in the air, but then finally it came to rest on the shoulders of Freshman Jaden Dike. Dike only has two years of goalkeeping experience under his belt, but he’s looking forward to this opportunity to up his game at the Varsity level. “I’ve gotten pretty nervous, because this is a big step up for me, but I’m also super excited because this is a huge chance for me to get better.”

Dike had his first test against Grand Island on Saturday, and he only gave up two goals. “We’re really proud of what we saw, and his effort, and his increasing confidence,” Whitney said. “For a young guy, not really having a lot of goalkeeping experience, he really stepped in and played confidently. He was tested very early in the game, and he made a pretty significant save, which I think gave him a little bit of boost.”

Dike thinks that one of the key things he needs to work on is communicating better with his older teammates. “I need to be speaking up. It feels weird to tell the older guys what to do, but I know that it could help the team out a lot,” he said. As for getting along with the players on the varsity team, he thinks that shouldn’t be much of a problem. “I think I’m already fitting in pretty well, because I’ve known a lot of my teammates for a long time. But it should still take some time before I get really close with all of them.”

The rest of the season still seems fairly promising even with the first game ending in a loss. Dike has only played one varsity game, so he has a really high ceiling and with more games comes more experience.

Whitney doesn’t see Dike’s communication being much of an issue right now though, “By the end of the game, I could hear him communicating. I think he slowly gained confidence throughout the day. So even though we gave up the two goals, I feel good about what we saw from him.” Whitney did go on to say that experience would be a key factor towards the development of the young keeper. “From where he’s starting each game, he’s just going to gain more confidence in himself, and start to understand what we’re trying to do defensively. And with that confidence, he’s just naturally going to be more vocal.”

“My only goal this season,” said Dike, “is to help our team win. I plan on getting better with my team, and just having a great season together.”