One of the parody commercials at the 2012 O.S.C.A.R.S. (Outstanding Student-Athletes Celebrating Achievements & Recognition Showcase) - the introduction of IRIS - who sound remarkably similar to head men's soccer coach Bobby Clark.
The #14 Notre Dame Men's Soccer team defeated #3 Louisville, 1-0, at Alumni Field on September 24.
Bobby Clark's formula for success and his reputation for assembling winning teams are evident after 12 seasons at Notre Dame. The charismatic and affable Fighting Irish leader has guided his Notre Dame teams to 11 NCAA Championship appearances, two BIG EAST tournament titles (2003 & 2012) and three BIG EAST regular-season crowns (2004, 2007 & 2008).
Since coming to Notre Dame in January of 2001, Clark, a native of Scotland, has engineered a great turnaround. In the two seasons prior to his arrival, the program suffered consecutive losing campaigns, but under Clark Notre Dame has compiled a winning record every season en route to an impressive 153-68-35 (.666) mark and the Fighting Irish have been ranked in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) top-25 poll in 10 of Clark's 12 seasons. Notre Dame reached new heights within the program by advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship for the first time ever in 2006 and made a repeat appearance in 2007.
Clark, a two-time BIG EAST coach of the year, became Notre Dame's all-time wins leader during the 2011 campaign. For his dedication and commitment to the Fighting Irish men's soccer program, the Notre Dame Monogram Club awarded Clark with an honorary monogram in June of 2011.
Winning has been synonymous with Clark wherever he has been. His 26-year resume has produced a glossy .676 winning percentage. Clark's teams have posted a 306-131-60 mark during his collegiate coaching tenure. Prior to becoming Notre Dame's fifth head coach, he had successful coaching stints at Dartmouth (1985-93) and Stanford (1996-2000).
The 2012 season signified one of the best in Notre Dame history as the Fighting Irish won their first seven matches en route to a 17-4-1 record. The 17 wins were the most for the program since 1988. Notre Dame won the BIG EAST Championship, which was the final for the program before its move to the Atlantic Coast Conference, and garnered the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history. Notre Dame has earned one of the 16 national seeds and a first-round bye for the NCAA Championship seven times under Clark.
Notre Dame topped Michigan State, 3-0, in the second round of the '12 NCAA tournament, but the Irish saw their tremendous season come to an end with a heartbreaking 2-1 double-overtime setback to eventual national champion Indiana in the tournament's Round of 16. It was the fifth time that Clark had guided the Irish to that stage of the national tournament.
The Notre Dame squad garnered several accolades for its performance during the stellar '12 campaign. Seniors Ryan Finley and Dillon Powers were named first team All-Americans, which signified the second time under Clark that a pair of Fighting Irish players copped first-team All-America honors in the same season. Finley also was named the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year and was one of three finalists for the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy.
Powers continued the trend of Notre Dame men's soccer student-athletes excelling in the classroom as he was selected as an NSCAA Scholar All-American for the second time in addition to being a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award. Junior Harrison Shipp also was tapped as an NSCAA Scholar All-American along with copping Academic All-America honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Finley and Powers both appeared on the all-BIG EAST first team and were among five Irish players that notched all-league accolades. That group was just the latest in a long line of decorated players that Clark has mentored at Notre Dame. Clark's penchant for developing talent is evident in the fact that Notre Dame produced 65 all-BIG EAST selections from 36 different players. In addition, he has coached eight All-Americans with the Irish, including 2006 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy winner Joseph Lapira. Lapira also was a finalist for the award in 2007.
Lapira and Finley are two of the three Fighting Irish players that have been named the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year under Clark's guidance. Lapira, a two-time All-America honoree, was the league's offensive player of the year in 2006, while Bright Dike took home the honor in 2009.
The Fighting Irish have had 25 Major League Soccer (MLS) draft picks during Clark's 12 seasons at Notre Dame. Since 2008, Notre Dame has had 14 MLS SuperDraft picks, which are the most for any school during that time span.
In 2009, Matt Besler became the highest MLS draft pick in Notre Dame history as he was selected eighth overall by the Kansas City Wizards. Besler was named a 2011 MLS All-Star, becoming the first Irish alum to garner that distinction. Former Irish standout Justin Morrow, a 2010 graduate, was an MLS All-Star selection in 2012.
Besler and Morrow were part of another monumental moment for the program when they became the first Notre Dame alums to earn a cap with the United States Senior National Team. The duo started a friendly versus Canada on Jan. 29, 2013. Besler also has earned multiple starts with the U.S. squad during qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Clark has mentored several players that have a wide-range of experience on the international level. Ryan Nelsen, who played for Clark at Stanford, captained New Zealand during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Another one of Clark's former Stanford players, Simon Elliott, joined Nelsen on the New Zealand World Cup squad.
Powers and Aaron Maund both were members of the United States team that competed at the 2009 U-20 World Cup in Egypt. In August of 2010, Powers was named MVP of the Milk Cup Tournament as he helped lead the U.S. U-20 squad to the title with a 3-0 record. Greg Dalby, a 2007 Notre Dame graduate and current Fighting Irish assistant coach, captained Team USA as they won Group D during the 2005 U-20 World Cup.
In 2007, Lapira earned a cap with the Ireland Senior National Team during a friendly against Ecuador. Dike has played in multiple games with the Nigerian National Team and he became the first Notre Dame alum to score a goal for a senior national team when he deposited the equalizer in a friendly against Catalonia on Jan. 2, 2013. All of those players are among the Clark pupils that have played or currently are playing professionally both in the United States and overseas.
In addition to excelling on the pitch, Clark's Fighting Irish players also have been successful in the classroom. Besler was named the 2008-09 NSCAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year and he is one of five Notre Dame players to have garnered Academic All-America honors from CoSIDA under the tutelage of Clark.
Regarded as one of the premier tacticians of the game, Clark has built a reputation of being a true players' coach; he's an individual who relates easily to the needs of his players both on and off the field. Clark also has shown that he is very capable of reloading talent without having his team miss a beat on the field. Clark and his staff have consistently brought in nationally-ranked recruiting classes that keep the Fighting Irish in contention for league and national success year in and year out.
The 2011 season saw the Irish post their 11th straight winning campaign under Clark as Notre Dame went 9-5-4 overall. The Fighting Irish boasted three all-BIG EAST honorees, including Maund, who was a first-team selection.
In 2010, Clark guided Notre Dame to its 10th consecutive NCAA Championship appearance as the Irish garnered the tournament's No. 9 seed. Notre Dame fell to Dartmouth, 2-1 in overtime, in the second round to finish the season with a 10-6-4 record. Four Notre Dame student-athletes received all-BIG EAST accolades for the `10 season. Headlining the honorees were first-team selections Jeb Brovsky and Steven Perry, who led all BIG EAST players in goals with 12 and was tied for the points lead with 28. Additionally, Brovsky and Perry were named NSCAA Scholar All-Americans.
The 2009 season witnessed Clark notch his ninth NCAA tournament victory during his Notre Dame tenure with a 2-1 first-round win over Green Bay. The Irish suffered a 3-1 setback at Northwestern in the second round to conclude the campaign with an 11-8-4 mark. Notre Dame narrowly missed out on winning the BIG EAST Championship title as the Irish were taken down in penalty kicks by St. John's, 5-3, following a scoreless draw in the tournament final.
Five Notre Dame players garnered all-BIG EAST honors in `09. Michael Thomas joined Dike, who led the league in points (26) and goals (11) en route to earning the league's offensive player of the year award, on the all-BIG EAST first team.
In 2008, Notre Dame went 12-7-2, including a 7-2-2 BIG EAST mark to clinch the conference's Blue Division. That signified the first time in program history the Irish had ever won back-to-back BIG EAST regular-season titles. A 3-0 victory at Cincinnati on Sept. 26, 2008, was Clark's 100th win during his Notre Dame tenure. The Fighting Irish were seeded 12th for the `08 NCAA Championship and fell to Northwestern, 2-1, in the second round.
Besler earned the distinction of becoming the first player in program history to be named both a first team All-American and first team Academic All-American. Besler and Dike both were first team all-BIG EAST selections and headlined a group of five Notre Dame players that copped all-league honors.
The Irish captured a share of the 2007 BIG EAST regular-season title by tying Connecticut for the Blue Division crown. The Irish went 7-0-4 in league play and were the only BIG EAST squad to go undefeated within the conference. Notre Dame advanced to the final of the BIG EAST Championship before falling to Connecticut, 2-0. The Irish peaked at No. 2 in the national polls during the season.
The Fighting Irish opened the '07 season with a 2-1 overtime victory against top-ranked UCLA at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic in Bloomington, Ind. Notre Dame garnered the No. 10 seed for the `07 NCAA Championship and opened the tournament with a 2-1 triumph of Oakland University. A 2-0 victory at No. 7 Santa Clara propelled Notre Dame into the quarterfinals for the second straight season. The run ended with a 1-0 overtime loss at eventual national champion Wake Forest. The Irish concluded the season with a 14-5-5 record and a No. 6 ranking in the final NSCAA poll.
Lapira earned first team All-America accolades for the second straight season, while Ryan Miller was a second-team pick in addition to earning Academic All-America honors. Lapira and Miller were unanimous first team all-BIG EAST selections and they were among a group of seven Fighting Irish players that copped all-conference citations.
Program history was made in 2006 as the Irish advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship for the first time. After earning the No. 12 seed and a first-round bye for the national tournament, Notre Dame knocked off UIC, 1-0, before taking down defending NCAA champion Maryland, 1-0 in double-overtime. The win over the Terrapins marked the second straight season in which the Irish topped the defending national champion in postseason play. A 3-2 loss at Virginia ended Notre Dame's bid for its first College Cup appearance.
Accolades were in store for the `06 Irish squad, who concluded the season with a 15-6-2 mark. Lapira won the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy thus becoming the first student-athlete in program history to win a national player-of-the-year award. Lapira, who led all NCAA Division I men's players with 22 goals and 50 points, also captured player-of-the-year honors from Soccer America along with being Notre Dame's first-ever unanimous first team All-American. Lapira was named the BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year, while Dalby was selected as the league's midfielder of the year. In all, the Irish boasted five all-conference performers. Dalby also earned first team All-America honors for the second straight season.
Despite not earning a seed for the 2005 NCAA Championship, the Irish posted identical 2-0 wins over Western Illinois and Indiana to advance to the Round of 16 for the third time in program history. The victory against Indiana marked the first time in nine tries that Notre Dame knocked off a defending national champion in regular or postseason play. A 1-0 loss at Clemson gave the Irish a final record of 12-8-3.
Dalby copped first team All-America honors and was a unanimous first team all-BIG EAST selection along with being a M.A.C. Hermann Trophy semifinalist. Ian Etherington joined Dalby as a first team all-league member.
In 2004, the Fighting Irish faced lofty preseason expectations despite losing key components to a squad that won the BIG EAST Championship the previous year. Notre Dame lost a valuable seven-member class, which contained five all-BIG EAST selections and 35 of the team's 38 goals in 2003, to graduation. The `04 Irish still managed to post a 13-3-3 record that included an 11-game unbeaten streak.
The '04 squad was led by a stout defense that allowed just nine goals on the season. Notre Dame posted an 8-1-1 conference mark en route to the program's first regular-season BIG EAST title. Clark and his assistant coaches, Brian Wiese and Mike Avery, were named the BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year. Six members of the Irish squad earned all-BIG EAST honors, including All-America goalkeeper Chris Sawyer, who received his second straight BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year award. Fellow seniors Kevin Goldthwaite and Jack Stewart joined Sawyer on the all-conference first team with Stewart winning the league's defensive player of the year award.
The Fighting Irish garnered the NCAA Championship's No. 5 seed for the second consecutive season, but the '04 campaign ended with a 2-1 loss to Ohio State in the second round.
In 2003, the Irish claimed the program's second BIG EAST Championship title (the first under Clark) and finished with an impressive 16-3-4 record. The Irish, behind tournament outstanding defensive player Sawyer, shut out all three opponents to claim the program's second conference title and first since 1996.
Notre Dame was seeded fifth for the '03 NCAA Championship and opened tournament play with a 4-1 triumph over UW-Milwaukee, yet the season came to an end against Michigan as the Wolverines advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals by winning a penalty kick shootout, 4-3, following a 1-1 draw.
The program received numerous individual accolades for the '03 season, including All-America honors for senior forward Justin Detter and Sawyer. A school-record eight Irish players earned all-BIG EAST honors. In addition, Detter joined classmate Kevin Richards as the first Clark-era Irish players to be drafted into the MLS.
The 2002 season saw Clark lead his team to an impressive 12-6-3 record, which included a 6-3-1 league mark, and Notre Dame played host to an NCAA tournament match for the first time in program history. The Irish defeated Akron, 3-1, in front of the home crowd to advance to the second round of the tournament for just the second time in school history. The run ended with a 1-0 loss at Indiana.
Clark wasted little time in bringing the Notre Dame program back into the national forefront in his first season in 2001 as the Irish earned an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 1996. Clark's squad flourished under his guidance and leadership as the Irish registered a 12-7-0 record, which marked the most victories in five years.
He earned his sixth conference coach-of-the-year accolade when he was selected as the 2001 BIG EAST Coach of the Year after leading the Irish to a 7-3-0 league mark. Notre Dame tied for second in the final BIG EAST regular-season standings and advanced to the semifinals of the conference championship. It marked the most wins and highest finish ever by an Irish team in seven seasons as a league member. In addition, five players earned all-BIG EAST accolades, which included two first-team selections (Erich Braun and Detter).
Prior to being named head coach at Notre Dame, Clark spent five seasons at Stanford where he produced the most successful era in the history of the Cardinal program. When he arrived on the Palo Alto, Calif., campus, he inherited a team that had produced consecutive 5-12 campaigns and had not posted a winning record in four years. In his five seasons at Stanford, Clark turned the program around, creating a consistent national powerhouse.
As Director of Soccer, Clark oversaw both the Cardinal men's and women's programs and specifically served as the head coach of the men's program. In his five seasons at the helm of the Cardinal men, Clark compiled a 71-21-12 (.740) record and guided Stanford to the NCAA Championship each of his last four years (1997-2000), and his 1998 squad was the national runner-up.
His final season with the Cardinal, the 2000 campaign, ranked as one of the most successful in Stanford history. The 18-3-1 record matched the school standard for wins in a season (tying the mark set by his '98 team). His teams spent two weeks ranked No. 1 in the country, marking the first time Stanford had ever been atop a collegiate poll in men's soccer. The Cardinal had 13 players win all-Pac-10 accolades. Included in that number was Nelsen, who was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year, as well as the NSCAA/adidas Collegiate Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In NCAA play, Clark's team defeated Cal State Fullerton (4-0) and Illinois-Chicago (6-0) before falling in the quarterfinals to SMU (2-1).
Clark led Stanford to its third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance in 1999 and the season ended in the first round as Santa Clara won a penalty kick shootout following a 2-2 draw.
The 1998 season saw Clark direct the best season in the history of Stanford soccer. Not only did the Cardinal win its first NCAA tournament match, it advanced three steps further to the NCAA title game. Stanford fell to Indiana, 3-1, in the final to finish with a No. 2 national ranking. The team won a school-record 18 matches (18-5-2), surpassing the mark of 16 wins recorded in 1978. Following the season, Clark's son Jamie became the first Cardinal to be named to the NSCAA All-America First Team.
In his first season at Stanford in 1996, Clark led the Cardinal to a 10-4-4 record, its first winning season since 1992, and was named the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Mountain (MPSF) Division Coach of the Year.
The 1997 campaign was a break-out year for the program as Stanford posted a 13-5-2 record, earned its first MPSF Mountain Division title, its first top-10 ranking and its first trip to the NCAA Championship in five years. Following the 1997 season, Clark was named NSCAA Far West Region Coach of the Year and garnered MPSF Mountain Division coach-of-the-year honors for the second consecutive season.
Prior to arriving at Stanford, Clark compiled an impressive soccer background as both coach and player. From 1994-96, as head coach of the New Zealand National Team, he produced a 21-12-3 mark while working with the Senior National Team and the Olympic squad along with the U-20 and U-17 teams. For his efforts, Clark was awarded the 1995 Jim McCullen Trophy, given by the New Zealand national media to the person who did the most for New Zealand soccer.
Clark began his collegiate coaching career as the head coach at Dartmouth College from 1985-93. In nine seasons, Clark compiled an 82-42-13 record (.646) and led the Big Green to three Ivy titles (`88, '90 and '92) and a pair of NCAA quarterfinal appearances. Clark's Dartmouth teams were ranked in the top-10 for four consecutive seasons, and he was twice named the NSCAA Region I Coach of the Year (1990, `92). His `90 team finished eighth in the final Intercollegiate Soccer Coaches Association of America poll.
Along with his international coaching experience in New Zealand, Clark also coached in Africa and in his native Scotland. In Zimbabwe, he was Director of Coaching with the Bulawayo Highlanders in the Zimbabwean Super League for the 1983-84 season. In Scotland, he was the Youth coach with Aberdeen F.C. in the Scottish Premier League. He was also one of the Scottish Football Association's staff coaches.
Prior to coaching, Clark enjoyed a distinguished professional career in the Scottish League. From 1962-82, he made more than 800 first-team appearances, 696 of which were with the Aberdeen Dons from 1965-1982. With the Dons, Clark won the 1970 Scottish Cup, the 1976 League Cup and the 1980 Premier League Championship. Clark, who represented Scotland at every level of professional soccer, was involved in three of Scotland's World Cup campaigns as a player in 1970, 1974 and 1978, contributing to the Scottish squad that advanced to the finals of the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.
Clark's success in Aberdeen is legendary. In `02, he was honored by the team as one of its top-25 members of all-time. In two Scottish off-seasons, Clark played professionally for the Washington Whips of the United Soccer Association (1967), and the San Antonio Thunder of the North American Soccer League (1976). In February of 2009, Clark saw his 38-year British record for consecutive scoreless minutes snapped by Manchester United's Edwin Van der Sar. Clark went 1,155 minutes without allowing a goal while playing with the Aberdeen Dons during the 1970-71 Scottish first division season.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Clark graduated from Jordanhill College in 1967. He and his wife Bette have three children: Tommy, Jennifer and Jamie.
Tommy, a 1992 graduate of Dartmouth, earned a bachelor's degree in English. He was a regional All-American while playing with the Big Green - and played professional soccer in Zimbabwe, New Zealand and New Mexico. He and his wife are graduates of the Medical School at Dartmouth. They have two children, Hugh and Annabell. Tommy is the founder and CEO of Grassroot Soccer, an international AIDS awareness and education organization that reaches youth in Africa through soccer clinics.
Jennifer, a 1994 Dartmouth graduate, served as an assistant for three years to former Stanford women's soccer head coach Steve Swanson. She also spent time as an assistant women's soccer coach at Middlebury College. Jennifer is married to former Notre Dame assistant men's tennis coach Mike Morgan. The couple has three children, Tamhas, Rory and Mhairi.
Clark's youngest son, Jamie, graduated from Stanford in 1999. A two-time All-American, he played professionally for the San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) and Raith Rovers in Scotland. After serving as an assistant coach under his father for two years at Notre Dame (2006 & 2007), Jamie accepted the head coaching position at Harvard University. Following two successful seasons with the Crimson, he was at the helm of the Creighton University program during the 2010 campaign before taking the head coaching job at the University of Washington in January of 2011. He and his wife, Kate, have one daughter, Noel.
Jamie is just one of the coaches who has worked under the elder Clark that is now at the helm of their own program. Wiese currently is the head coach at Georgetown University, while Avery has the same position at Valparaiso University. Castleton State (Vt.) head coach John O'Connor worked under Clark at Dartmouth as did Geoff Wheeler, who is the head coach at Wesleyan University.
The Bobby Clark File
Youth Coach, Aberdeen F.C. Scottish Premier League
Director of Coaching, Bulawayo Highlanders, Zimbabwe Super League