May 1, 2018
On a night that celebrated his collegiate coaching career, Bobby Clark (honorary) on Saturday was presented the Monogram Club's Jesse Harper Award. The award recognizes Monogram Club members who have demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to the Notre Dame Athletics Department and University.
Clark patrolled the Notre Dame men's soccer sidelines for 17 seasons before announcing his retirement in December. During that time, he amassed 216 victories, seven conference titles, 16 NCAA tournament appearances and guided the program to its first national championship in 2013. Clark became Notre Dame's all-time wins leader during the 2011 campaign.
The Monogram Club established the Jesse Harper Award during its 100th anniversary celebration in 2016 as a way to highlight the great accomplishments of its members. Clark is the third recipient of the award, joining Jim Gibbons ('53, baseball/basketball) and Roger Valdiserri ('54, honorary).
"This is a wonderful honor," said Clark at the reception held inside South Club at Notre Dame Stadium. "Thank you very much for this honor. Although, if you look at the resumes of the other recipients, mine seems a little light.
"It's so great to be at an organization where they let you do your work and they run everything for the right reasons and the right way. I've been very, very lucky. This is a fabulous night that I'll never forget. So many faces here have brought back so many very happy memories."
The award bears Harper's name as a way to recognize his many contributions to Notre Dame. Harper coached football (1913-17), basketball (1913-18) and baseball (1914-18) at Notre Dame in addition to serving two stints (1913-17, 1931-33) as the University's athletics director. Harper holds a very special place in the rich history of the Monogram Club as he, along with Knute Rockne (1914, football), founded the Club in 1916. Recipients of the Jesse Harper Award reflect Harper's dedication and commitment to Notre Dame, its athletics department and its student-athletes.
Clark, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, received an honorary Monogram in 2011. Similar to Harper, Clark did not attend Notre Dame, but they both embraced what Notre Dame stands for and made sure to have high integrity within their athletics programs. During Clark's Notre Dame tenure, 15 Irish players were honorees on United Soccer Coaches All-America squads. He also mentored 10 conference players of the year at Notre Dame, along with 30 all-conference first-team selections, 11 CoSIDA Academic All-America recipients and nearly 40 players went on to play professionally, including 29 MLS SuperDraft choices.
"This is the first time we have presented the Jesse Harper Award to a head coach," said Monogram Club President Terri Vitale ('94, '95, tennis). "When you think about what that means, and what the bar is for that recipient, I can't think of anyone more representative for a head coach to receive this award than Coach Clark."
Prior to his arrival at Notre Dame, Clark served as head coach at Dartmouth (1985-93) and Stanford (1996-2000). Several of his former Stanford players were in attendance on Saturday. Clark's 31 highly-successful seasons produced 369 victories as a collegiate men's soccer head coach.
"When you're in this profession, you literally can't run into someone who he (Clark) hasn't coached -- whether at a camp or on a team -- or a coach that he's worked with at a clinic," said Notre Dame men's soccer head coach Chad Riley ('04, soccer), who played three seasons for Clark at Notre Dame. "It's amazing what his impact is. To do it for that long and for it always to be so positive is an amazing feat. He's done so much for our game from where it was when he started coaching in 1985.
"Around 300 or more of his former players have earned their college degree and really have impacted the world in a positive way. I don't think many of us would be the same people without him. His real love for Notre Dame made us feel so fortunate to be here."
Learn more about Bobby Clark:
Bobby Clark Announces Retirement After 17 Seasons At Notre Dame