Sports teams arrive at Clark

(April 2, 2013) — After years of petitioning, and just when most Clark students had finally given up hope, an announcement at the GUSD Board of Education meeting this last Monday surprised all in attendance.

Beginning next year, for the first time in Clark’s history, Clark will be sporting its very own interscholastic sports team. After years of waiting, Clark students will be able to participate in sports activities without having to leave the campus. According to board members, this historical occasion would mark the first time in 12 years that students would have access to sports in any of Clark’s four schools.

“It’s really nice to get [sports] at Clark,” said future Ultimate Frisbee coach Chris Axelgard. “We’ve really been rooting hard for this.” The administration appointed both Axelgard and PE teacher Judy Thomsen to lead the new Clark teams, the Panthers. They will be responsible for the establishment of both on-campus and off-campus training, as well as preparation for competition against neighboring schools.

“We don’t just want to participate,” Thomsen said. “We want to win.” Unfortunately, for many students hoping for the school to sport its own football team, the administration determined that they simply could not financially support it. In addition, the existence of in-school sports teams meant students would no longer be able to participate in sports at other schools. Instead the school will introduce several fledgling sports as the very first Clark teams.

“We’ll have a chance to shine among other schools who don’t invest as much into this type of athletics,” Thomsen said. As a result, the two teachers are planning to incorporate former football and basketball players into the new sports. “Football isn’t really that different than sports like roller hockey or chess boxing,” said Axelgard, speaking about the first two sports to be introduced. “For the basketball players, we’ll have luge.”

Thomsen was particularly enthusiastic about the new luge program, which will have runs in the drainage gutter between the school and Dunsmore park. One of the first such programs in the nation, Clark will break traditions in competing in the winter sport. “It’s exciting to have one of the first luging teams in California,” said Thomsen. In addition to winter sports, Clark will be moving funds for the creation of a full array of team sports.

Race walking, team hang gliding, and interpretive tennis will all be introduced in the next several years. Thomsen spoke very highly of her hopes for the new Clark team and what it would mean for students looking for an easier way to get involved in school activities. “This really is an exciting new chapter for Clark athletics,” she said.