In the Corner with Coach Atwood: Eddy Clark Retires
Catawba County has quite an extensive history with the sport of wrestling. Within that county alone there are four teams that have won state championships in recent history. Those schools are Bandys, Fred T Foard, St. Stephens, and Newton-Conover. While Newton-Conover isn’t part of the Catawba County School System that school still exists within the county that may be the best wrestling county in North Carolina. Eddy Clark has been a mainstay that helped lead Catawba County, and Newton-Conover, to the top of the heap.
Prior to coaching, Eddy attended Avery High School where was a state champion and Senior National All-American. He would further his wrestling career at Appalachian State where he was a four-year starter. In 1996, Eddy would qualify for the NCAA Division 1 National Tournament after winning the Southern Conference Championship.
Upon graduation from App State, Eddy Clark became Coach Clark after being hired as the head coach at Mitchell High School. He was there just one year before moving to West Rowan where again he would be for just one year (he was assistant coach) before moving onto Newton-Conover.
Prior to Eddy’s arrival at Newton-Conover (he was hired to teach Physical Education) the school had discussed dropping the wrestling program. His first season there were a total of 9 kids who came out to wrestle and he booted 4 of them from the team. That first season though (of what would turn out to be a total of 24 seasons he was head coach at Newton-Conover) put the wheels of the program in motion and the rest is the history you’re about to read.
Coach Clark’s coaching career win-loss record was 868-100. Here are the incredible stats included in those numbers:
State Dual Team Champions (5 times)
State Dual Team Runners-up (3 times)
State Dual Team Final Four (13 times)
State Individual Tournament Team Runners-up (2 times)
Regional Individual Team Champions (8 times)
14 Individual State Champions
49 Individual State Placers
North Carolina 2A Coach of the Year (4 times)
Conference Coach of the Year (numerous)
Included in those state champion/state placer numbers are Eddy’s two sons, Cole and Owen. On coaching his sons Coach Clark added “My coaching career highlight was being able to coach both of my boys, Cole and Owen, who were both multiple time state place winners. Owen was a two-time state champion in 2022 and 2023. Cole was a state finalist in 2020 and third in 2021.”
Other sports that Coach Clark was involved with were football (7 years) and cross country (7 years), and he served 12 years on the North Carolina Wrestling Coaches Board.
After retiring, Newton-Conover named their gym floor Eddy Clark Court. A truly distinguished honor that will remain throughout the duration of Newton-Conover High School’s existence.
Eddy has been married to his wife Brook for 29 years. Their oldest son, Cole, is 20 and attends UNC. He is pursuing a career in law. Their youngest son, Owen, is 18 and will attend NC State in the fall. He will be enrolled in the engineering program
Future plans for Coach Clark and family “are to move to Fort Myers, Florida and continue what has been a part time job as a boat captain chartering trips around the area.”
Here are some quotes submitted regarding Coach Clark:
Justin Shuffler, Eddy’s assistant coach and Newton-Conover’s new head coach:
“For the last 10 seasons I have been fortunate enough to be able to coach with Eddy. His love for our kids and our program goes far beyond practices and matches. He genuinely cares for each kid in our program, even after they graduate. He and I have had several talks about the rewards and challenges of coaching his sons, and he has given me a lot of great advice on that topic for coaching my own son. I have learned a lot about coaching from him over the last several years, and I look forward to carrying on the winning traditions at Newton Conover. When I first got to Newton Conover, I didn’t understand why people hated us and wanted to beat us so badly. He taught me to embrace it and take it as a compliment. Ha Ha.”
Cole Clark, Eddy’s son who was a two-time state placer:
“Coach Clark is an exemplary person, coach, and father. His impact on the wrestlers he has coached has and will continue to extend far beyond the championships and trophies. His ultimate legacy will be the lives he has touched and the kids he has helped in all his years of coaching. There is truly no one like him!”
Joesph Lioret-Tutty, former 220 wrestler Class of 2023:
“Coach Clark, an inspirational figure, shattered the mold of conventional coaching. He delved into the lives of his wrestlers, understanding their individual styles and unique backgrounds. While others prescribed a one-size-fits-all approach, Coach Clark recognized that personalized guidance was key. Beyond teaching wrestling, he imparted the wisdom of winning. With empathy and insight, he nurtured his athletes' self-belief, propelling them to unimaginable heights. Coach Clark's legacy reminds us that true victory lies in forging deep connections and tailoring guidance. He showed us that greatness transcends the mat, reaching the very core of our being.”
If the experience Eddy had as captain of the Newton-Conover wrestling ship is any indication of the success he’ll have on the water as a boat captain, then I’d say he’s set for life down in Florida. Sail on Eddy Clark. Best wishes and congratulations on your retirement after an outstanding teaching and coaching career.