By Jim Sullivan
---- — NEWBURYPORT — As the Clippers’ former football defensive coordinator, Bob Clark has been on the Newburyport High School athletic field for a long time.
“This is the first time in 32 years that I won’t be coaching football,” said Clark. “(But) I’ve always thought the athletic programs here have been outstanding and this is a good opportunity for me.”
Clark recently left his positions as both defensive coordinator and chairman of the special education department to take the job of NHS athletic director, which will see him overseeing all the athletic programs at the high school as well as the Rupert A. Nock Middle School.
Some might see that as the beginning of a list of headaches, but Clark sees it differently.
“I’ve been here three weeks and haven’t had a headache yet,” he said. “I think for me and my career, personally and professionally, it’s a new opportunity. I believe I bring a good skill set to the job as far as organizational skills. I think my reputation as a member of the staff at Newburyport High School as well as a member of the community, I believe I’m fairly well respected from that angle and I think I can bring a lot to that environment.”
A linebacker and baseball player at Curry College, Clark came to NHS in the fall of 1988 from Tufts University football, where he worked the defense with Ed Gaudiano. Gaudiano took over the Clippers’ head coaching job and Clark became the defensive coordinator as well as the school’s special needs coordinator.
“It’s not that I wanted to get out of coaching or that I wanted to leave coaching,” said Clark. “It’s very difficult to leave it. I will miss coaching this year. I’ve had some wonderful experiences and memories that go back a long time.”
But when former AD John Daileanes jumped the Clipper ship for Masco at the end of the last school year, Clark leapt at the opportunity.
“John did a good job,” Clark said of Daileanes. “If you look at the last couple of years, it’s been a very successful program. He left everything in good shape for me. And the headaches come with any position in public education. Are you going to please everybody, every time? Maybe, maybe not.
“My goal is that we want the kids to have a positive experience from the athletic program.”
Clark praised administrative assistant Pat McBride with helping him pick up where Daileanes left off; and although the fall’s online registration has been slow and his replacement as defensive coordinator has yet to be announced, Clark feels the football program is in good hands.
“Eddie has an excellent football mind and he won’t miss a beat,” Clark said of Gaudiano. “And there are good, young coaches who are coming into the program. I don’t think the defense is going to miss a beat.”
One might think those upcoming football games would be awkward for Clark. but he said he will be too busy to notice.
“I have to make sure that I have all the game responsibilities taken care of,” said Clark. “I have to make sure I have three guys to hold the change. I have to make sure that the tickets are OK. I’ve got to make sure that the clock goes off. There are so many game management things that need to take place prior to that contest happening and then, while it is, making sure that everything is working smoothly. I probably won’t have time to watch the game. But I’m not worried about it. I think once things settle down, it will be fine.”
Also an assistant coach for the Tufts baseball team for the past 23 years, Clark says the opportunity to leave a mark at NHS has proven too great a lure.
“I think it’s setting a tone and a tempo for the coaches as far as where we are from a philosophical standpoint about high school athletics,” said Clark. “We have experienced, seasoned coaches and I don’t see that there are any weak links.
“Our kids participate. I’d like to see more of our kids participate. That’s the tone I want to set. I think athletics is important. It should be an important program, just as theater and art and all those other extracurricular activities are in high school.”