Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

May 4, 2012

GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD: Fallen track star is 2012 honorary referee

GOSHEN — Rick and Jan Clark along with the rest of their family will be going through a wide variety of emotions Saturday at the 23rd annual Goshen Girls Relays at Foreman Field.

On one hand the Clark family will feel pride in the fact that 1989 Goshen High School graduate Jodie Clark is being recognized as the Honorary Referee for the event. While on the other hand there will be some feelings of remorse since Jodie Clark passed away from cancer on May 11, 2003.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Rick Clark said. “Jodie never had the opportunity to run in the Relays.”

The first Relays were on May 5, 1990.

“I think Jodie would be a little surprised by this,” Rick Clark said. “I don’t think she would think of herself getting this kind of an honor. One thing I know if she were still here she would want to be out on the track competing rather than watching the competition.

“We feel very blessed that Goshen Athletic Director Larry Kissinger ask us about honoring Jodie.”

Clark died on Mother’s Day.

“The weekend before Jodie and I were at home,” Rick Clark said. “I went out to get the mail and heard the announcer at the Relays. We talked about the Relays and Jodie told me she wished the event would have been held when she was in school. It would have been nice to take her, but she wasn’t strong enough.

“The two of us did have a competition. The Kentucky Derby was that day and we each picked a horse. Neither one of our horses won, but it was the last competition we had and I will always remember that.”

When Jodie Clark completed her track and field career at GHS she held school records in the 100-meter hurdles, the 300-meter hurdles, the 800-meter run and long jump.

“Her record in the 800 (2:22.1 in 1986) still stands,” Rick Clark said. “Jenna Rozelle came close a few years ago.

“Her 100 hurdle record is still a record as well since the hurdles are a different height now than when she ran.”

One highlight of her senior season was scoring 24 individual points and leading the Redskins to a third-place finish in the NLC meet at Warsaw. She won the 100 hurdles, placed second in long jump and third in the 300 hurdles. Her time of 15.37 was just off her GHS record of 15.34 and her mark of 48.62 in the 300s shattered her record of 49.5.

“Jodie had a great night,” then GHS coach Carl Weaver told The Goshen News.

As a junior she won long jump, finished third in the 300 hurdles and fourth in the 100 hurdles at the NLC meet,

Weaver described Jodie Clark in a preseason story about the team as “Miss Versatile” feeling she was capable of competing in six or seven different events.

“Jodie handled four events pretty well last season,” Weaver said. “She’s matured a lot and come a long way. She is going to be a key person for us, not only because she is so talented, but because she is so versatile. That allows us to shift our strengths depending on the competition.”

Clark qualified for the state meet in the 800 as a freshman, but had problems getting back due to some rather strange circumstances as a senior at the Fort Wayne regional.

“She finished third in her 100 hurdle qualifying heat, but when she reported for the finals her name wasn’t on the list,” Rick Clark said. “Carl Weaver and I went up to the press box to try and find out what had happened. For some reason the officials thought we were asking about the 100 dash and by the time they realized it was the 100 hurdles we were talking about the final was over. They did let her run the hurdles after the rest of the meet was over. She ran all by herself and missed out on going to state by one-tenth of a second.

“Both the starter and the clerk told me later that was the worst mistake they ever made.”

“I’ve never been back to a meet in Fort Wayne,” Jan Clark said.

Through the incident Jodie Clark’s true character was demonstrated.

“Bob Duell was the Goshen High School principal then and we were talking about going to the IHSAA about what had happened,” Rick Clark said. “Jodie was the one who said it was not worth it. She didn’t want anyone getting in trouble. She was the one who made the decision to let it stand as is.”

Quite remarkable when considering her experience as a junior as the same venue in the 800 meters.

“The starter put Jodie and another girl in the wrong box and told them they had to run the entire race in those lanes,” her uncle Jack Elliott said. “They were out in lanes seven and eight so they ended up running a longer distance than the others and missed out on going to state.”

Besides track Jodie Clark ran cross country at GHS, earning the team’s most valuable runner award one season.

“She was so agile I think she could have been a diver had she wanted to be,” Rick Clark said.

After graduating from Goshen she went on to run at Vincennes University where she was an indoor All-American in the 4 x 400 relay.

“After college, she played softball, some women’s baseball and some women’s football for the South Bend Golden Hawks,” Rick Clark said.

Jan Clark shared a story about how her grandchildren remind her of her daughter.

“The other day one of the grand kids was getting ready for school,” she said. “They had a green pair of socks and a blue pair. When asked which pair I thought they should wear. I said the blue ones went with outfit, but I said why don’t you wear one blue and one green sock. That’s what Aunt Jodie would have done.”

Her favorite number was 8.

“Jodie wore No. 8 when she played softball and No. 88 in football,” Rick Clark said.

“She even had an 8 tattooed on her back with stars on both sides,” Jan Clark said. “She was a huge Dallas Cowboy fan.”

Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman wore No. 8.

“We never found out if it was through a man Jodie meet while taking her cancer treatments or if it was Ken Mirer talking to Rick but one day a package arrived in the mail,” Rick Clark said. “There were four 8 x 10 autographed pictures of Aikman.

“We put a miniature Dallas football helmet at her grave site and it’s still there. Next week it will be nine years since she died,” Jan Clark said.

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Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

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