It runs in the family


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Hannah Clark’s father, Eric Clark, was at Iowa’s soccer match against Iowa State on Sept. 6. He watched his daughter shut out her fourth team this season in front of a record setting crowd.

For someone who’s been with his daughter for every step of her soccer career, it’s safe to say it was a proud moment.

Hannah Clark’s relationship with her father is deeply rooted in soccer. Ever since Hannah Clark picked up the sport, her father has been there with her.

“I’ve grown up with him teaching me the ropes and giving me advice,” she said.

With a stint as a goalkeeper at Marshall University cut short because of concussions and a lone year on the Chicago Sting’s reserve team in 1982, Eric Clark’s background in soccer is much more than being a proud parent.

He coached his daughter for the majority of her early soccer years. When Hannah Clark was playing in youth leagues, it was likely that her father was on the sideline.

Even when her father wasn’t coaching her, he would find ways to give her advice.

“Growing up, he would pull me aside and be like ‘You need to do this. You need to do that,’ ” she said. “It was really helpful.”

She was able to learn the basics of goalkeeping from her father. She learned quickly and by the age of 13, her father started to see bright things for her future.

“She was pretty good. She had a good record and was doing well on the team,” Eric Clark said. “She was an excellent goalie. At that point I knew she was going to be pretty good.”

Hannah Clark gathered experience through numerous club teams and eventually found her way to Iowa. Here, Eric Clark faced his toughest task— not being able to coach her anymore.

“It’s probably the hardest thing I did,” Eric Clark said. “Last year I wanted to coach her, and I found the more I did it the further I pushed her away.”

The coaching Hannah Clark receives from her father these days is far more simplistic.

“Before every game I just send her a text message and tell her I love her, play smart, and have fun,” Eric Clark said. “Other than that I don’t coach her anymore.”

This season, the Iowa goalkeeper has only been scored on once the entire year. She’s played the entirety of each match and has posted five shutouts in the process— making it 380 minutes since the last time she’s been scored on.

“It’s really good to have Hannah back there,” head coach Ron Rainey said. “Were going to be in every game because it’s going to be hard to score on us.”

Eric Clark has now taken on more of the role of supporter rather than coach, but for him, to be able to watch his daughter succeed at this level is definitely worth the sacrifice.

“I’ve seen her maturity grow over the past year. She walks into a game more mature,” Eric Clark said. “This year she’s prepared and a totally different person.”

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