FACES, DIFFERENT PLACES
Clark went on to swim for four New England Championship squads under celebrated head coach Russ Yarworth, highlighted by a pair of still-standing school-record relay efforts, and later enjoyed a pair of stints as an assistant from 1994-96 and 2000-03.
So when the Binghamton University swimming and diving teams head to nearby Hamilton, N.Y. this Saturday to take on host Colgate and UMass in double-dual competition, it will be more than just another meet for the Bearcats' first-year head coach.
"It has always been a dream of mine to stand across the deck and throw what I have, against what I know Russ has," said Clark. "For the first time in almost two decades, I will have to root against my alma mater. And I haven't quite figured that out yet."
nearly a decade as part of the UMass program under Yarworth and
almost as much time spent as his "designated dog sitter",
the two coaches today share a special friendship. Throughout
the season they keep each other updated on the latest goings
on, talk strategy, and
"We've definitely seen each other through some life times," said Clark. "I've gotten more from him than any other individual not just in coaching, but in life as well."
In addition to facing his former mentor, across the deck Clark will find another familiar face, as fellow co-captain and Minuteman teammate, Stephen Jungbluth, heads the Colgate Raiders program.
"I always enjoy seeing my former coach and teammates from my days at UMass," said Colgate head coach Stephen Jungbluth. "We all went through a great deal together and they have always been my closest friends."
"Steve and I did our time in the Happy Valley. We made sure our time there was memorable. Coach remembers us quite well," Clark said laughing.
Coach Yarworth shares the enthusiasm of his former athletes turned collegaues.
"I'm really excited to be swimming against Binghamton and Colgate this weekend," said UMass head coach Russ Yarworth. "What an awesome testament to the value they placed on their years swimming at UMass to see them go into the coaching profession. They are both great coaches and close friends and I look forward to the challenge of competing against their well-mentored squads!"
In spite of the conflicting emotions, there's little doubt as to which side of the pool Clark's allegiances will lie this weekend. "We'll throw about as much Bearcat green out there as we can. We're going to go at them."
A WINNING TRADITION
For almost three decades now, Yarworth has brought unparalleled success to the UMass men's swimming and diving program. In his 27 years as head coach at Massachusetts, Yarworth's program has captured 16 titles and is poised for a possible 17th. His successes, however, transcend just the pool.
There is no better example than his 1990 incoming swim class, which owns the unique distinction of having produced three Division-I varsity head coaches. The third member of the group, former swimmer Scott Reed, currently heads the water polo program at George Washington University.
At Colgate, Coach Jungbluth already has both the men's and women's teams ascending through the ranks of the Patriot League. It is this same kind of winning tradition that Clark aims to replicate at Binghamton.
"The program was high while I was there," said Clark. "They continue to grow into a swimming power and I am proud to see that. I am working to put in a similar structure here because that's what I want for us I love the Binghamton mentality and the close knit environment of our team because that's exactly what we had there."
The plot for Saturday's meet includes an additional twist as first-year Binghamton assistant swimming coach Aimee Bourassa will be coaching against not just her former coach and mentor, but a number of teammates and close friends as well.
"It will be fun seeing all the familiar faces," said Bourassa. "I have such a special bond with both my coach and former teammates which will make it kind of difficult for me personally. That being said, our women are prepared and we expect them to swim some great races on Saturday."
Earlier this summer, Bourassa joined the Bearcat program after concluding a stellar four-year career with the Minutewomen as a tri-captain for head coach Bob Newcomb.
"I am very proud of the success Aimee has found at Binghamton," said UMass women's coach Bob Newcomb. "She is a wonderful person and it was both an honor and pleasure to have her as part of our program for her four years at UMass."
"Seeing as she has just graduated in May and that she was a captain, Aimee is little more conflicted," said Clark. "This season though, I feel that she really has gravitated towards both this team and our program. I know this weekend will definitely mean a lot to her"
With strong ties abound, Clark expects to see a large contingent of UMass fans and alums packing the stands/bleachers of Colgate's Lineberry Natorium come Saturday afternoon.
"The maroon and white will be very vocal this weekend," said Clark. "Hopefully we will get enough of our people up there to counteract that."
With the tremendous family and alumni support the swimming and diving program has witnessed over the years, there is no doubt that the BU faithful will be out in full force.
"We'll show up," said Clark. "The Bearcats will go Grrr!"
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