In his first full season as head coach for Northeast High School, Eric Clark has found different ways to keep his team uplifted through a difficult year. It was a tough start for the Vikings before their season even started as one of their players, Khyrie Isaac,was shot to death.
"I stayed home for months, but I just prayed up and kept the right people around me. I just continue to try to motivate my players every single week," said Coach Clark. "Having one of my players get killed was one of the worst experiences I've ever had in my life."
Coach Clark is thankful for the support he has received from the community. With dozens of distractions on and off the field, the Vikings lean on one another to help them push forward.
"I'm blessed to have people around from our assistant coaches to our administration to our parents to our teachers, it's been amazing to have that support across the board," Coach Clark said. "Everybody has in some way understood what we are going through, and has said, 'How can I help? What can we do?' It's been amazing to see that."
The Vikings were resilient and continued on with their schedule for Khyrie. It hasn't been easy for the team to find its rhythm. From weather to violence in the area to opponents having positive COVID tests, the Vikings have had several games canceled. With their season wrapping up, Coach Clark has faith his team will finish strong.
"Nobody has had a season like we've had this year," Coach Clark added. "The ups and the downs that this group of young men have been through has been a lot, but we're going to promise to keep working."
Coach Clark is being honored as this week's Eagles High School Coach of the Week, presented by Hyundai. For the past decade, Coach Clark has spent his time on the sidelines as an assistant coach. New to the head coaching position, Coach Clark was able to get real-time experience when the Vikings had a mini season in the spring.
"I appreciate the Eagles for reaching out to our program and other programs in the area. It means a lot, a simple showing that you care means so much," said Coach Clark, who played football at Towson University.
Every school year, Coach Clark looks forward to the new year as dreams come true for his players.
"The best part of the job is surprisingly not the things that go on in the fall, but around January/February when college coaches are coming in," Coach Clark explained. "We're able to give them transcripts and the film is always good because our athletes are awesome. To be there with them when college coaches start recruiting and Signing Day for them to live out their dreams playing college ball, it doesn't get better than that."