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BREAKING- TROY ATHENS NAMES JASON CLARK GIRLS HEAD SOCCER COACH, ONLY 3RD IN PROGRAM HISTORY.


BY DAN STICKRADT

WEB AND CONTENT EDITOR

Twitter: @MiSoccerNetwork


TROY, Mich. – Jason Clark is coming home.

 

The 2006 Troy Athens graduate was named late last week the new girls soccer coach for the Red Hawks. Clark signed paperwork last Thursday night (Feb. 22) at his alma mater and had a private meeting with players and parents on Sunday night before the school announced it publicly on Monday morning (Feb. 26).

 

Clark is just the third head coach in program history. The Athens boys team started in 1981 and the girls soccer program followed in 1983. Tim Storch coached both programs from 1981-2011, while Todd Heugh coached the programs from 2011-2023. Heugh’s last boys soccer team captured the MHSAA Division 1 state title last November.

 

Heugh stepped down at the beginning of February to concentrate on being the Athens Director of Athletics, a position he has held since July of 2023. The boys soccer position is still open, as Clark and his spouse have a 15-month-old child and he won’t have time to do both.


 

“This is a great opportunity,” continued Clark, noting the shoes he will have to fill is from Tim Storch and Todd Heugh. “Athens has a lot of history. It’s all about the kids and helping them enjoy success, though, and continuing the success that Tim Storch and Todd Heugh have had at Athens is important. I spoke to the players and their parents (Sunday) about all of this and the expectations at Athens will never change.”

 

Clark’s family moved to Troy when he was in middle school and he later spent three years on the Athens varsity squad (2003-2005). He earned All-OAA and All-District honors as both a junior and senior, was a multi-year All-OAA Scholar Athlete and was named the Team MVP as a senior following the fall 2005 season.

 

“I do remember when my parents were shopping for houses in Troy and I was trying to get them to buy a house in a certain part of Troy,” recalled Clark, who attended Troy Larson Middle School for two years before entering Athens as a ninth grader in the fall of 2002. “I remember walking into tryouts my freshman year and meeting Coach Storch for the first time. I knew about the history and the expectations. I’ve known Todd Heugh for quite a few years now through coaching (in the OAA) and around the soccer community. When I played for Athens, Todd (Heugh) was the coach at Rochester and they ended my career as a senior (fall of 2005). We beat them though the year before that (2004) in a (double-) overtime (district) game.”

 

Clark played one year collegiately at Madonna College before transferring to Oakland University where he finished his bachelor’s degree in 2011. His heart was always in coaching, nevertheless.

 

Clark accepted the girls soccer head coach position at West Bloomfield in November of 2008 when he was just 19 years of age and took over the Lakers’ program in 2009 for the girls soccer spring season. He coached the West Bloomfield girls soccer team from 2009-2023 and the Lakers’ boys soccer program from 2011-2021. His teams captured four conference championships in girls soccer in 2011, 2016, 2019 and 2023. The Lakers also won their first two league titles in boys soccer under Clark.

 

The veteran Clark also served as an assistant coach at both Bloomfield Hills Lahser (2010) and Southfield Christian (2009) and was also an assistant coach at Troy Athens at the sub-varsity level from 2007-2009. He has worked at a variety of soccer camps and clinics for various entities over the years as well.

 

“That’s something I’m proud of as a coach. I think what I’m even more proud about is that we took (the West Bloomfield) girls from the OAA Blue (Division) in 2016 and up to the OAA Red (Division) by (2020),” said Clark, who is an IT Infrastructure/Senior Strategic Sourcing Manager for the Raleigh, North Carolina-based Red Hat Corp, where he works remotely and still has the flexibility to be a part of the Metro Detroit soccer coaching fraternity. “We did a lot of good things at West Bloomfield (as a coaching staff) and I look forward to continuing the tradition at Athens as one of the top teams in the state. We play in one of the top leagues in the state in the OAA.

 

“There’s a lot of tradition in our league, too,” continued Clark. “We’ve had a state (finalist) each of the last three years in the OAA. (Rochester) Stoney Creek won it (Division 1) last year and Bloomfield Hills won it all the year before. Athens was the (state) runner-up in 2021 and a bunch of other schools have made long runs over the years.”

 

This spring, Athens is expected to bring back 11 varsity letterwinners and has a host of quality club soccer players within its program. The Red Hawks recently won Division 1 district championships in both 2022 and 2023 in girls soccer.

 

Keeping the Red Hawks on the center stage in the prep soccer arena will be a focal point for Clark and his staff, as this era watches several quality players from around the state remain in the club circuit with either the U.S. Girls Academy or the ECNL 10-month programs.

 

“I’ve always been a big supporter of playing for your high school and your community and I want to keep Athens as an option for kids coming through,” added Clark. “I think if your program remains one of the best in the state then some girls will still want to be a part of it. I think there’s something about playing at 7 p.m. under the lights in front large crowd where Troy High is your opponent.”

 

Athens is still trying to finalize all of the positions for varsity assistants, JV-A and JV-B coaching staffs. Clark did not know how many current coaches will remain with the program and who are the top candidates for the boys soccer head coach position, as Heugh and the district administration is currently working on filling that void as well in recent weeks.

 

Between boys soccer and girls soccer, Athens has captured dozens of championships at the league, district, regional and state levels with close to two dozen runs to the Final Four in school history combined in both soccer programs. The Athens girls soccer program has not won a state title since 2000 while the Red Hawks’ boys soccer program recently captured state crowns in both 2019 and 2023. The Athens girls soccer program does have Final Four appearances in 2015 and 2021 in the last decade and reached the Division 1 regional finals (Elite Eight) in 2022.

 

Last year Athens finished third in a loaded OAA Red Division behind Rochester and Rochester Stoney Creek and finished 17-3-2 overall with the last loss coming in the Division 1 regional semifinals to New Baltimore Anchor Bay (4-3). The Red Hawks are expected to be a top-15 program in Division 1 when the coaches’ association preseason rankings debut in late March.

 

High school girls soccer tryouts and practices begin March 11 across the state. The Red Hawks will host the all-day Athens Scrimmages March 16 and kick off the regular season March 20 at home against New Baltimore Anchor Bay in a rematch of last year’s regional semifinals tilt.


 





 

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