By Bron Wickum in Sports
From new leadership to conference realignment and the highlight, an NWAC championship, Clark Athletics had a roller coaster of a year. Now that the ride is over, the Indy recaps the highs and lows of the 2014-15 sports year.
HIGHS: Men’s basketball won the NWAC Championship for the first time in 20 years. Clark also had eight of its 11 sports teams make the playoffs. The softball team doubled its win total. Men’s soccer went 11-1-3 in conference play. “We’ve already created a better website, that was on top of my list,” Jacob said.
PERSONNEL: Clark hired new athletic director Ann Walker in the fall 2014, In January 2015 Clark hired Chris Jacob to take over the assistant athletic director position. Walker and Jacob are in charge of running sports events, and making sure the teams have access to everything they need. Jacob is responsible for the Clark athletics website, and is currently running all facets in hopes to recruit players and fan support.
“I like to help players get to where they want to get, and I think it’s a great opportunity to get some of the college guys exposed to coaching,” Brett Jacobs, the new men’s soccer coach explained. Jacobs was hired in April of 2015.
LOWS: With so many new people, Clark’s athletic department faced short deadlines while trying to learn a new program. “We like to have everything ready, and it goes a lot smoother when summer happens,” Jacob said.
“We knew we were going to be really small, and we knew it was going to be one of those years where we had to tough it out,” said head track coach Bob Williams. Clark had small teams due to a short recruiting season. The track team was the second-smallest team in the conference, with 18 people, and softball only had 12 eligible players according to nwacsports.org. “I really tabbed this year as the year of survival,” Williams said.
Conference Change: This season Clark’s basketball and volleyball programs were both in the NWAC West region and are now joining the rest of Clark athletics in the NWAC South region. From Danny Tomko’s article “Penguins Migrate South”, the move from the West region is happening because new teams are joining, causing a need for conference realignment. “From an administrative point of view, the consistency of having all of our teams in the same region, makes sense,” Walker explained. “Why would we have eight of our teams playing in the south and three playing in the west?”
Personalities: “I love running man, I love the high, and the whole getting to know people,” track runner James Breen explained. Men’s basketball coach Alex Kirk described the championship game, “There were times that we were just nasty on the offensive side, where we couldn’t score, but our defense was able to hold the teams down to give ourselves a shot of winning.” Softball centerfielder Haley Hamilton said, “We are giving 100 percent and having fun doing it.”