Marshall Clark will not soon be forgotten

Mark Foyer

By Mark Foyer--Coastside Scoop

Having spent a lot of time covering the track and cross country scene in the Central Coast Section, I've had the opportunity to meet a lot of coaches.

Not just coaches from the Peninsula Athletic League, of which Half Moon Bay is a member. But coaches from throughout the CCS as well.

(The CCS ranges 150 miles from the private schools in San Francisco south to King City, including Santa Cruz and Monterey counties as well.)

Seeing some of the coaches at the same meets or invitationals is like seeing friends. I make it a point to pop in and say hello to the coach when I see teams arrive.

I have not yet seen all of my friends while covering Half Moon Bay cross-country this year. I was looking forward to seeing Saratoga High at last weekend's Half Moon Bay Artichoke Invitational for the chance to say hello to the coach, my friend Marshall Clark.

The Falcons were there to run at the Invitational, but Clark was missing. Five days before the meet, Clark, while jogging with his team, collapsed and died instantly. He was 69.

His passing creates a vacuum in the coaching ranks of CCS cross-country and track and field. Not since 1992, when San Mateo coach Don Dooley died on a bike ride, has a coach's passing been felt so keenly.

Clark was typical of the track and cross-country coaches that I have met. He would show up at a meet with backpack and a clipboard. He would tell his athletes when it was time to run.

For a cross-country race, he would position himself at various parts of a course, such as at mile marks. When his runners came by, he would give them encouragement, dutifully clicking on his stopwatch to note their splits.

After the race was over, he would have a quick word as the finishers prepped for their cool-down. Simple things like that.

Then when the next wave of runners would take off, he would record their starting times and Clark would repeat the same process again.

You didn't hear him complain about anything. He was too busy giving pats on the back to his team - as well as to opposing coaches - to complain.

He loved to coach, and he was respected by his peers. He was the Central Coast Section honors coach for track and field in 1999-2000.

Prior to coaching at Saratoga, he coached at Stanford, Montana and San Jose State universities. He also coached the U.S National Track Team at the 1972 International Indoor Meet in Moscow.

Wherever he coached, he left his mark. It wasn't the number of wins or individual standouts that made people take notice of Clark. It was just the way he treated people.

"He cared for every athlete, whether they were very good or average," said Terry Ward, the track and cross country coach at Bellarmine Prep in San Jose. "He treated people the way he wanted to be treated."

That was with dignity and respect.

Clark is gone, but the legacy he left will not be forgotten.