Clark helped charter program grow
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE – John Clark was a true pioneer for the Lake Norman Charter boys lacrosse team. Four years ago, when the school was considering adding the sport, he took to the hallways.
“I had a sheet of paper and we literally went around school asking `Hey, if we had a lacrosse team, would you be interested in trying out?’” Clark said. “I got a list of about 20 or so people, brought it to the (school) board and they approved the sport.”
The move gave Clark and his teammates a platform to grow and excel. Clark, a goalie, capped a senior season by helping the Knights to a 14-6 record and into the second round of the state playoffs. He is the Herald Weekly 2012 Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year.
Clark was in net for 13 of the team’s victories. He had four shutouts and registered a .580 save percentage.
“John has been the backbone of this team for four years,” Lake Norman Charter coach Terry Gobble said. “John has amassed almost 580 saves in his career, a save percentage of .598, and has been the best leader this team could have.”
Clark was equally impressive on and off the field. He was the school’s nominee for the Wendy’s High School Heisman award, he won the school’s Knights Shield award, he was an all-conference and all-region pick and became the first academic All-American in school history.
“John Clark was the glue that kept the team together, was the leader of our defense and the starting point of our offense,” Gobble said.
Clark’s leadership qualities carried over as a goalie. As a middle-schooler, he played other spots. Then, when the coach asked who might be interested in being a goalie, Clark stepped forward.
“I like to take charge,” he said. “I like the leadership that goes with it. I like that everyone looks to you. If I let a ball in, from wherever it came, 15 yards or right on top of me, I felt I should have made that save.”
Clark, who is headed to the University of South Carolina on an academic scholarship, smiles when he thinks how far the program has come.
“We had 20 people maybe interested in trying out that first year,” he said. “This year we had more than 70. It’s a great feeling that first day of tryouts to see that many people and how much it has grown.”
Clark said the biggest change came between his sophomore and junior years.
“I got taller and got more athletic,” he said. “The change this (senior) year was more in my leadership. It wasn’t so much my skill level, more being able to take charge on the field.”
Clark learned by studying game films. In one, which Lake Norman Charter won, something jumped out.
“I saw my reaction after one of the (opposing) goals, and I was yelling too much and pointing fingers,” he said. “From then on, I’d hand the ball to the ref, gather the guys and talk to them. I wanted them to know I wasn’t scared of anything.”