The Wildkat soccer team will have a familiar face leading the squad next season as Thomas Clark takes the reigns of the girls soccer program.
Clark, who has been serving as an assistant coach with both the boys and girls squads for the past two seasons, takes over the team from O’Brien Byrd, who went 20-5-1 as the Wildkat coach over the last two seasons.
“I have always wanted to be a head coach at some level, I just didn’t know how soon this opportunity would come,” Clark said. “I was planning on staying under O’Brien as long as I could. He has always been a mentor to me.”
Clark spent four years playing for Byrd in high school as the goal keeper for the Whitefish Bulldogs, winning two state titles along the way. Clark finished his high school soccer carreer on a 27-game unbeaten streak and was an All-State selection as a senior. Clark continued his soccer career as the goal keeper for Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., where his team made the conference playoffs in three of his four years there. Clark graduated from Evergreen State as the only keeper in school history to have an undefeated regular season.
“I just have always been around great teams and winning cultures,” Clark said. “I have always been around great coaches with different philosophies and I want to mold those philosophies together to find my own.
After college, Clark returned to the Flathead Valley, where he quickly accepted a position assisting Byrd with the Columbia Falls soccer program.
“When I knew I was going to come back to this area, it was a no-brainer that I wanted to work with the best coach I’ve ever had,” Clark said. “It’s been a crash course in coaching working with him over the past two years and it has been awesome.”
Clark takes over a Wildkat team brimming with talent, including three returning 2018 All-State selections in Josie Windauer, Flora Jarvis and Maddie Robison.
Clark said he is excited about his first season leading the Kats and that he has high hopes 2019.
“When you take over a new program, it’s usually because something has gone wrong, either on the field or off of it. This is a unique situation where I get to come in and take over a program that has been dominant. I get to come in and continue that tradition and it is very exciting,” he said. “My first goal is to make the playoffs, but we have so much veteran leadership and young talent that we should be able to compete for a state title.”