Coach Marshall Clark
Photo Credit: Unknown
Remembering Coach Marshall Clark
We forget way too soon when someone passes away from this life. Some people's impact on our lives is not fully known until decades later. You look back and say, "Wow, that person made a big difference in my life, more than I ever understood when I was young."
I frequently write about my coaches growing up in youth programs and the difference they made in my life. I rarely write about my college coach at the University of Montana, Marshall Clark.
Marshall had a significant impact on my life in many ways. Marshall was a quiet man in some ways. However, his words were profound when he spoke to my teammates and me. When Marshall talked, we listened.
Coach Clark spent many years as the head coach of Cross-Country at Stanford University and the mid- and long-distance coach in track. His team finished second in the NCAA Division 1 cross-country championships one year.
Coach Clark was no stranger to success before coming to Montana. At Stanford, he coached Olympians Don Kardong, Tony Sandoval, and Duncan McDonald.
Kardong founded the Bloomsday Run in Spokane, one of the world's most popular runs, and finished fourth in the marathon at the Olympic Games.
Sandoval was a medal contender in the Olympic Marathon, but the U.S. boycotted the games when he won the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
Mcdonald was one of the best USA middle-distance runners of his era.
It is no coincidence that the golden years of distance running at Montana were during Clark's tenure at the school. World championship marathon participant Dave Gordon (2:11 marathon runner) and the Olympic Team alternate was one of my teammates at Montana.
Tom Rauning of the Grizzlies was my teammate as well. Tom ran 2:12 in the marathon, finishing in the top 10 Olympic trials.
Nike sponsored Dave and Tom as post-collegiate runners on the Athletics West Team.
Coach Clark had a saying that has stuck with me all my life. He would say, "Self-sacrifice and self-discipline are more than mere words to a distance runner; they are a way of life if you want to succeed in distance running or any other area of life."
How spot-on coach Clark was. In his heart, Coach Clark taught life lessons to young people.
When I first met Coach Clark, I said, "I peaked when I was young. I have not improved".
With quiet assurance, he said, "Well, we will just have to change that."
I had little self-confidence at that point in my journey. Clark's simple words helped change my attitude for the better. I believed Coach Clark could help me improve. His calming assurance and quietly confident demeanor meant the world to me then.
Coach Clark helped me win two Big Sky 800-meter titles, set one conference record, and break the long-standing 800-meter school record at the University of Montana. I also improved my time thanks to him.
Coach Clark's confidence in me changed my attitude for the better forever. This fantastic man took the time to teach me important life lessons in ways I could understand at the time.
Never underestimate the importance of encouraging words you speak into another person's life. The simple phrases uttered by Coach Clark still hold a special place in my heart even today.
As the famous quote says, "Build Bridges, not Walls" in life when directly communicating with others.
Encouraging words fuel life; they take you to places you never thought were possible.
Thank you, Coach Clark, for your encouraging words over the years. You made a difference in hundreds of lives over your lifetime, including mine.
Coach Clark passed away in 2002. You can read more about Coach Clark's life impact here:
USA World Championship Marathon Team Member Dave Gordon is pictured above. Dave was an All-American at Montana and was the Olympic team alternate in the marathon. He was also the first American finisher at the Boston Marathon one year.
Dave ran well under coach Clarks' guidance at Montana.