Seymour High School goalkeeper Elliott Clark has thrived in his role as the final line of defense on the soccer field.
In recent years he has had a goal and a dream of playing soccer in college, and he moved a step closer to make that happen on Wednesday when he signed a letter of intent to play at Franklin College this fall.
He began playing soccer at an early age in the Seymour Park and Rec. leagues, and has been active on soccer fields ever since.
Clark said he also looked at playing soccer at Trine University and the University of Indianapolis, but in the end he felt like Franklin was the best fit for him.
Another factor that helped Clark make his choice was the chance to play in the fall.
“(Franklin) had one keeper and he graduated,” Clark said. “I do have a challenge though. There are two other keepers coming. I like to compete and not just have it handed to me.”
Seymour coach Matt Dennis said that Clark has worked hard over the years to get where he is today.
“Elliott is a tremendous competitor,” Dennis said. “The fact that he gets to go compete against another player; I think he’s going to thrive in that situation. He’s going to really succeed. I think he’s going to show exactly what he can do on the collegiate level.
“I think when he gets that opportunity to compete, he’s going to show everybody exactly what he’s made of. He was a tremendous competitor for us every day. He was a great leader, a captain his senior year. He really drove the guys and made sure that everybody was doing things the right way.”
Dennis said that the college coaches that have talked to, and seen, Clark were impressed.
“Every coach that we’ve talked to in the recruiting process and the talk about Elliott, they all said the thing: that he’s one of the hardest working guys that they’ve ever seen. I think he’s going to be able to showcase that,” he said.
Clark helped the Owls win the Hoosier Hills Conference title his junior year.
He said he played club soccer for five years and that experience helped him become a better soccer player.
“Playing club you play a lot of different teams, and a lot of different opponents compared to high school,” Clark said. ‘Plus, my second year of playing I actually played up a couple age groups, and that actually showed me how the 17- and 18-year-olds would play, so that gave me a better chance during high school my junior and senior year.”
Dennis feels that Clark has the build and skills of a keeper.
“He is long and agile which is two things you need in a goalie,” Dennis said. “ He worked really hard at his deficiencies. When he struggled as a sophomore to take goal kicks and punt he worked on that until that was one of the better parts of his game.
“He really worked on his hands a lot. I think early on basketball may have helped with that a little bit. He’s one of the most sure-handed goalkeepers we’ve ever had. He gets low and is able to catch the ball rather than parry it away, which means we weren’t allowing second shots.
Dennis said that Clark didn’t offer rebounds if a team got a shot on goal.
“He did a really nice job for us limiting the opponents in what they were able to do, and it was more than just the saves,” he said. “He was a vocal leader so he was able to organize the backs, make sure the guys were taken care of, and there were lots of times he did work with his voice to prevent any shot from being taken.
“That’s not noticed a lot when goalkeepers aren’t making saves. Maybe you don’t notice what the goalkeeper is going, but he’s directing traffic, he’s calling out marks, he’s making sure guys are getting back defensively and applying good angles and making sure we can win the ball, and all of that goes into being a good goalkeeper, even though it doesn’t appear on the score sheet.”
The senior said he enjoyed his time with the SHS program.
“The teammates were great, the coaches were great,” Clark said. “There was nothing better you could ask for, especially my goalkeeper coach (Chris Proffet). I want to thank him a lot, too. Without him we’d just be with the regular field players. With him being there and coaching me when I needed it was just a great thing. Most high school teams don’t even have a goalkeeper coach.”
His first practice at Franklin will be August 17.
“I’ve had a lot of fun and I’m glad I can play at the collegiate level,” Clark said.