Alpena’s Mike Clark signs Letter of Intent to play soccer at Olivet
ALPENA — In all his years of coaching, Tim Storch hasn’t seen too many players who work as hard as Mike Clark.
For two seasons, Clark has been willing to do it all for the Alpena High School, putting in extra time in practice, leading by example on the field and doing it all with a real love of the game.
Clark’s love of soccer and hard work paid off Thursday when he signed his Letter of Intent to join the men’s soccer program at Olivet College.
“It really means a lot to me because I’ve worked a long time, a long, long time for this,” Clark said. “It was always my goal, even from freshman year, was to play college and just to have the opportunity is a great thing.”
Two years ago, when former Alpena soccer star Aidan Day signed his Letter of Intent, Clark told himself he wanted to be in that position.
After a two-year varsity career, in which he was a part of Alpena’s most successful team ever, Clark has made his dream come true.
“I remember Aidan Day, he was a big one, and he taught me a lot really,” Clark said. “He was almost like a coach to me. Just to see him go on, I was like, ‘I think I’d be able to do that and carry that on.'”
As one of Alpena’s few upperclassmen this season, Clark stood out, tallying 10 goals and seven assists while garnering an honorable mention from the Big North Conference.
But it was his leadership abilities that stood out to Storch, especially in a year where practice schedules, offseason training and even regular season games were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He had to basically put a very young team on his back. For him to do that, and he nurtured those kids, he led those kids, but he also was demanding, spoke volumes of his leadership ability as well,” Storch said. “Mike represents what we want the Alpena soccer player to be and what we want them to aspire to.”
Clark came off the bench as a key contributor during the 2019 season, during which Alpena won 17 games and contended for a district title. But Clark said his senior season was special, not only because he got a chance to play, but also because of the team’s chemistry.
“My senior year was the best team I’ve ever experienced; just as far as team camaraderie, we had a really good connection,” Clark said. “Storch would tell us every game, ‘Play your hardest because you don’t know when we’re going to be able to play again’ and I think that really helped us.”
Clark, who will study psychology, considered Finlandia University and Northland College in Wisconsin, before choosing Olivet. Clark will join a roster that includes Gaylord alum Regan Distel and Clark said he likes the direction the program is taking under coach Doug Carter.
Carter, who took over Olivet’s program in November 2019, won more than 200 games coaching the men’s and women’s programs at Northwood and guided both programs to the NCAA Tournament.
Before he joins the team in August, Clark said he’ll work on preparing himself physically to be ready for the challenge of playing at the next level.
After working hard as a Wildcat for two seasons, Storch has no doubt Clark’s work ethic will serve him well at the next level.
“I think it means a lot, not only for Mike and his family, but also for the program,” Storch said. “He just has a love for the game, it’s something that’s embedded in his fiber, so it’s not surprising at all to me to see this.”