June 2, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
University of Notre Dame men's soccer head coach Bobby Clark certainly got a kick out of the festivities at the Monogram Club's summer mass & cookout Thursday night in the Joyce Center's Club Naimoli.
While enjoying a meal with Notre Dame friends and family, little did Clark know that a major surprise was in store for him.
He assumed his daughter, Jen, flew in from Vermont with her three children to spend some time in South Bend with her father after a recent knee operation.
It wasn't until deputy athletics director and former Monogram Club executive director Bill Scholl '79 took to the podium that he realized his family's true reason for making the trip to Indiana.
"The first thing you see from people when you ask them about Bobby Clark is a big, wide smile," Scholl said. "He's humble, he's a role model. He's as much Notre Dame as any one coach who has ever coached here. He's the best college soccer coach in the country, and he's now the owner of an honorary Monogram presented by the University of Notre Dame and the Monogram Club."
While trying on his new Monogram letter jacket - presented to him by Scholl and Monogram Club executive director Beth Hunter - Clark was treated to a video presentation from former Notre Dame assistant coach and current head coach of Georgetown University Brian Wiese.
"I've been at three great schools - Dartmouth, Stanford, and Notre Dame - and there's no question that Notre Dame does it better than anywhere else," Clark said. "With the letter jacket ceremony, this award means something to our players and it means something to me. To be an honorary Monogram member, I really feel like a special part of Notre Dame."
Also in attendance for the special presentation were Clark's wife, Bette, assistant men's soccer coaches Chad Riley '04 and BJ Craig, volunteer assistant coach Vern Gingerich and Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick '76.
Clark has guided the Notre Dame men's soccer program to 10 consecutive NCAA Championship appearances (a program first), a BIG EAST tournament title in 2003 and three BIG EAST regular-season crowns (2004, 2007 & 2008). Notre Dame reached new heights within the program by advancing to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals for the first time ever in 2006 and made a repeat appearance in 2007.
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 Irish suffered back-to-back losing seasons in 1999 and 2000 with a combined 15-17-5 record. Under Clark, Notre Dame is an impressive 127-59-30 (.657). The Fighting Irish have won at least 10 matches in every season of the Clark era. Clark, a two-time BIG EAST Coach of the Year honoree, ranks second on Notre Dame's all-time victory list, just one behind Rich Hunter entering the 2011 campaign.
Winning has been synonymous with Clark's tenure wherever he has been. His 23-year resume has produced a glossy .673 winning percentage. Clark's teams have posted a 280-122-55 mark during his collegiate coaching tenure. Prior to becoming Notre Dame's fifth head coach, he had successful coaching stints at Dartmouth and Stanford.
Clark's penchant for developing talent is evident in the fact that Notre Dame has produced at least three all-BIG EAST Conference selections in all 10 of his seasons - including eight honorees during the 2003 campaign and seven in 2007. In addition, he has mentored six All-Americans with the Irish, including 2006 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy winner Joseph Lapira. In addition, seventeen players have been selected in the Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft since Clark arrived at Notre Dame.
-- ND --