From student body president to major league soccer

“He could arguably go down as one of the best athletes to ever come through Oakland.”

That’s what Oakland’s head soccer coach Eric Pogue said about his close friend and former goalkeeper, Steve Clark.

Clark was the goalkeeper for Oakland from 2005-08. As a junior and senior, he was a two-time all Summit League player. He ranked eighth in the country with a 0.54 goals against average in his last year as a Golden Grizzly. 

Clark was named to the all Midwest region first team, posting a Summit League record-tying 11 shutouts.

In 2008 he was named Defensive Player of the Year.

“He was a tremendously hard worker, he was very driven, his work ethic  and belief in himself was second to none,” Pogue said.

Clark played four years with Honefoss BK and three in Norway’s topflight division and level of competition.

Columbus Crew of the major league soccer added him from Seattle Sounders FC, an American professional soccer club, in 2014.

In his first season he made all 34 starts. He was named Columbus’ Defender of the Year and captured the Kirk Urso Heart Award.

Clark played every minute in every game for two straight years.

“He’s a winner, he wants to win and he demands a lot of himself and in return he asks a lot of his teammates,” Pogue said.

Pogue mentioned that “no one was ever going to tell Clark that he wasn’t going to play major league soccer. He had people tell him he wasn’t good enough or he wasn’t tall enough, but he always believed in himself.”

One of the main reasons Pogue recruited him was because he saw a kid who has qualities that no one can teach.

“All of his success can be attributed to his hard work and his perseverance and his self belief that he was never going to get told no,” he said.

“He has had a lot of doors shut in his face and he could choose to use that as an excuse to quit or an opportunity to rise to the occasion and he’s always risen to the occasion,” Pogue said.

Two of the main things Pogue stressed were that Clark was a very intense person and a huge believer in himself.

Sometimes Clark would take things to the extreme and his intensity would often get the best of him. He would be his own worst critic.

“He’s really been able to harness that intensity and become much more focused,” Pogue said.

Clark now uses that intensity to motivate himself and his teammates.

When Clark first got to Oakland, one of his teammates and fellow goalkeeper, Jeff Wiese, was a big influence in his life.

Pogue said Wiese really humbled Clark through work ethic, intensity, dedication, maturity and professionalism before Weise graduated in 2005.

Wiese taught Clark what it really took to become a top-level goalkeeper and Clark used those lessons to work with other goalkeepers under him.

In 2008, Clark became student body president. Pogue said Clark talked to him about it and was all for it.

“There’s a time for soccer, there’s a time for school and there was a time for the student body aspect of it,” Pogue said.

“I think balance and structure doesn’t take away from the experience, it only adds to it and I think it makes you a better student, a better athlete and a better person.”

Clark believes he is the best goalkeeper in MLS. Pogue said if you don’t believe that then you shouldn’t be playing.

“I think that really epitomizes what being a coach and being a mentor is all about. He’s just a really special person to me.”

“He is someone you just want to follow and you can see his passion and how genuine he when he is on the field.”

“You would love to have him on your team, but you would hate to play against him.”

Pogue said that Clark’s journey wont stop at major league soccer. He said Clark looks at the U.S. National Team.

“If he keeps playing the way he does, I think that’s on the horizon for him,” Pogue said.

“No one deserves success as much as he does.”