Brad Clark is out to refute Thomas Wolfe’s famous contention.
Wolfe, an American author from the early 20th century, is associated with the phrase “You can’t go home again” — the title of a book he penned that was published in 1940. Clark has indeed gone home, to the Methacton High School wrestling program in which he was an athlete 10 years ago.
Clark is in position to become the program’s new head coach. He won’t be board-approved until the Methacton School Board approves all other winter coaches, which won’t take place until the fall season.
But he’s already settling into what he admits is his “dream job” … that after logging one season as head of the Pottstown High varsity mat program.
“Absolutely,” Clark said. “Coming back home is a privilege.”
Brad was made aware of the vacancy in mid-to-late June, from another coach.
“There was a quick transition,” he said. “It was an opportunity.”
Clark replaces A.J. Maida, who went 108-62 in the course of his nine-year tenure at Methacton. Maida directed the Warriors to a 14-4 record this past winter, and he had teams win 62 dual matches in a four-year span from 2010 to 2014.
Clark is mindful of the legacy of coaching excellence he’s following: Maida, Haley and Bill Moser — they headed the program during Brad’s competitive years — and even further back with the likes of Dennis Kellon and Nelson Stratton.
“There are some expectations,” he said. “It’s not so much the result as how you react to the result. It’s good to have high expectations.”
In Clark’s lone year heading the Pottstown program, he had a 9-10 overall record. The Trojans went 4-1 in the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s Frontier Division — the first time the league has been arranged in a two-division alignment — and had a pair of PAC silver medalists in Alex Caballero (126) and Isaiah Mayes (170).
“There were challenges. It was a growing process,” Clark said of his brief tenure at Pottstown. “But the kids, fans, families and friends were supportive, and I had a great mentor in (assistant coach) John Armato. I was able to find positives.”
Clark made quite a name for himself wrestling for the Warriors. The 2007 graduate, competing between the 145 and 189-pound weight classes in his four years, compiled a 126-27 career record and was a three-time Class AAA state medalist, his highest finish a fourth his junior season.
He came up through the Methacton Wrestling Club and middle-school team on the way to scholastic success. That foundation remains in place to this day, feeding the high school ranks.
“We have great support from the parents, and the booster club,” Clark said. “I couldn’t be happier. Eric Moser (club head coach) has been developing kids, and that’s led to the nucleus that’s there now.”
The Methacton program Clark takes over had 38 wrestlers on its roster for the 2016-17 season. Only five seniors graduate, but several of them were quality performers.
Bryce Reddington, a PAC and District 1-AAA West champion, saw a promising unbeaten run toward states undone by an injury at the Southeast AAA Regional. Brendan Marion, also a PAC champ, placed third at districts and fifth at regionals while qualifying for the state tournament. Dyaln Henry was another Warrior who was a PAC champ, finishing fifth at districts.
Still, the program boasted a number of high-achieving underclassmen. Kibwe McNair, Corey Morabito and Roman Moser all scored third-place medals at the District 1-AAA West tourney.
“We have a phenomenal group of kids coming up,” Clark said. “That’s the exciting thing about wrestlers. We have good numbers … a lot of talent.”
As for his staff, Brad described it at present as “a work in progress.”
“The guys I looked up to as mentors, I want to pick their brains,” he said. “I want to draw from different personalities and philosophies.”
The revelation of Brad’s coaching move came around the time his younger brother, Brandan Clark, was named head coach at Phoenixville. Brandan had served as an assistant on Brad’s Pottstown staff last season.
“He was happy to hear about it,” Brad recalled.