THE PHILIPPIANS 4:13 FACTOR
John Deshawn Clark Jr. is just a rising sophomore for George County High School’s varsity soccer team, yet he’s harboring high expectations.
Who could blame him, especially after a true freshman campaign in which he was christened Rookie of The Year?
All things considered, though, amongst things about which Clark Jr. senses is that he could have very well turned in a more stellar performance last season, a rather unorthodox, dauntless approach he admittedly needs to take as a strategic way to stay humble.
“Pretty good,” Clark Jr., during an interview this week with Making Headline News, said, when asked to sum up his display last season. “It could have been way better.”
Regardless, while Clark’s self-assessment carries a considerable amount of weight, he was, by all accounts, an integral piece for a George County team that erased the memory of a 1-3 start en route to an 11-7-2 finish last year, according to Maxpreps.com.
Assuming the center midfielder and winger positions for coach Tyler Williams’ team, Clark Jr. manufactured a career-best four goals and three assists for a Rebels squad that finished the year ranked No. 27 in Mississippi by Maxpreps.com after dropping a 4-0 decision to Northwest Rankin in the opening round of Class 6A playoffs.
In what could have been dubbed a coming out party, of sorts, last season for George County, Clark Jr. would be the first to admit there is much room for much improvement if he is to fulfill his ultimate goal of signing a National Letter of Intent to play collegiate soccer.
“I would like for them to know that I enjoy the work that is required to become a better soccer player,” said Clark Jr., when asked what kind of player would a college program inherit if offered a scholarship. “I love the game, and I am always on the ball.”
Ironically, the 15-year-old Clark Jr. has been “on the ball” for quite some time — since he was seven years old, put it more precisely.
That is when he commenced to playing competitive soccer and, to his credit, he’s been nothing short of remarkable.
“When he was younger around seven (years of age), we wanted to put him in a sport to give him an outlet for all of the energy that he had,” said Cathy Clark, Clark Jr.’s mother. “So, we signed him up for recreational soccer because football season was over and there was no basketball leagues around. It was at the first practice when we noticed that he was really good. In fact, the coach approached us and asked us if we were sure that this was his first time playing soccer.”
For what it’s worth, Cathy and her husband, John Clark Sr., sensed having signed their son up for recreational soccer was an ideal move, considering he hasn’t shown any signs of parting ways with the sport.
Heck, why should he when all he’s done for the past eight years was adopt a keen passion for it?
“Initially, we were shocked because neither one of us knew anything about soccer,” John Clark Sr. recalls. “And, then excited after seeing all of the opportunities that he will be afforded playing this sport.”
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, Clark Jr. has been extremely active in recent months, engaging in periodic conditioning sessions — “weight lifting and cardio every morning, ball work every afternoon,” he said — and practicing with his competitive team every Tuesday and Thursday.
As Clark Jr. emphasized, he’s poised to become a better version of himself as he prepares for competitive play.
“My touches could use some work, and finding the open runs is another thing that I am working on,” Clark Jr. said. “I could also work on my communication on the field. My strengths are my dribbling skills and my raw speed. I am not afraid to be physical and, (as far as) my determination, I never give up on the game or my team, even when we are down.”
It is due in large to Clark’s Jr. immeasurable work ethic that has prompted many who have followed his rise as a competitive soccer standout to suggest that he’s equipped to not only perform at the collegiate level, but also the professional ranks.
“Because that is the next step to becoming a professional player,” Clark Jr. says without hesitation.
Said Clark’s Jr.’s father: “Because we believe that with God, anything can happen.”
Said Clark Jr’s mother: “Total excitement and pride. We absolutely love watching him play.”
All of which are massive signs of things to come.
So stay tuned.
And remember what could very well become a household name in the soccer world: John Deshawn Clark Jr.
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