After spending most of last season as a backup, Steve Clark will start the 2011 Norwegian season as the number one goalkeeper at 1. Division club Honefoss BK.
Clark received the good news on Friday morning that he would be in between the pipes in the team's opener versus Sandefjord.
"The head coach and goalkeeping coach brought me aside before training this morning," Clark recalled to YA. "They said they were in 100% agreement on me as the number one."
While feeling thrilled upon learning that he would be the starter, the former Oakland University standout was also humble knowing that his primary competitor and last year's starter, Thomas Solvoll, gave every ounce of effort as well to win the job.
"My initial reaction was, ‘finally!' It is nice to know the coaches have confidence in me," Clark explained. "It has been a long fight. My competitor has played 200 times for HBK and did well. I also felt for the other keepers. It's a rough position when you're not picked."
The Michigan native had started the 2010 season on the bench but was soon named a starter just five matches into the season.
But a quad injury derailed his progress and Clark spent the bulk of the campaign watching from the bench. In total, he played in just eight matches last season.
Clark was also the target of some unsavory comments from a Norwegian soccer analyst who referred to the American netminder as ‘a [expletive] joke.'
This all made for a very long and trying 2010 which makes the reward for winning the starter's job all the more sweeter for Clark who says he has learned a lot from the experience of last year.
"I would say I've learned to control my emotions," he discussed. "Keep self-confidence above all else and stay healthy! My Lord, stay healthy."
A rigorous offseason also contributed to Clark's preseason success. With his quad fully healed, Clark dedicated himself to becoming a faster and quicker player.
Those efforts were on full display when Honefoss traveled to the Norwegian Olympic Center to do timed sprints. Coaches marveled when Clark ripped off a stunning 4.5 40-meter dash, one of the fastest on the team.
Clark believes the work he put in during the winter and the team's preseason has given his coaches every reason to believe that his focus will be on winning from April until November.
"You need the coach to trust you 100% in everything," concluded Clark. "Your mouth, with the press, with the team and not just your play."
Clark and Honefoss will open their 2011 1. Division season at Sandefjord on April 2nd.