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MailTribune.com
  • COLLEGE SOFTBALL

    North grad Clark's got Ducks' back

    He is in third year as team manager for No. 1-ranked Oregon softball squad
  • Brennon Clark is a team manager for the University of Oregon softball team.
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    • BRENNON CLARK
      WHO: A 2009 North Medford High graduate, the 23-year-old Clark is one of three team managers for the University of Oregon softball team.
      • WHAT: Clark has many jobs, including some film w...
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      BRENNON CLARK
      WHO: A 2009 North Medford High graduate, the 23-year-old Clark is one of three team managers for the University of Oregon softball team.

      • WHAT: Clark has many jobs, including some film work using specialized software, laundry and practice organization.
      • up next: Today, Oregon vs. Utah Valley, 5 p.m., Howe Field, Eugene.
      • TV: PAC-12.
  • Brennon Clark is a team manager for the University of Oregon softball team.
    That makes him a videographer, statistician, laundry expert, cleat cleaner, luggage monitor, retriever, herder, organizer and friend to a squad of women.
    The 2009 North Medford High graduate quietly has the Ducks' bases covered — at home and on the road.
    The gig has been valuable for the 23-year-old Clark — who has had all of his student expenses covered the last three years — and for Oregon, which benefits from his behind-the-scenes efforts. The Ducks are the consensus No. 1 team in the country for the first time in school history and will face Utah Valley at 5 p.m. today in regional action at Howe Field in Eugene.
    Year after year, the Oregon staff has brought back Clark, who is majoring in anthropology with a focus on archeology.
    "It's been amazing," says Clark, who goes wherever the Ducks go. "It's been a really cool experience being part of Oregon's rise and seeing the transformation."
    Clark's role may not be as glamorous as others, but it is crucial.
    He and two other managers help set up practices and can be involved in certain activities, like throwing batting practice. Per NCAA rules, Clark cannot do things like provide instruction to athletes or act as a practice player.
    "He's been a tremendous resource for us," says Oregon head coach Mike White. "He works hard. It's one less thing the players have to worry about. Their day is pretty full. When they get to practice, things are set up. It really, really makes things easier on the coaching staff."
    Clark was in the dugout during games keeping track of substitutions and acting as "an errand boy" in past seasons. This year he has worked as a videographer, using RightView Pro, a software analysis system that charts most everything that happens on the field.
    He packs the camera and laptop with him for road contests.
    The footage and data goes to White, his staff and the players.
    "We can chart every pitch, every location and every outcome," Clark says. "That goes into a hard drive so coach can filter any kind of situation and any kind of count.
    "I see coach White every day. I am solely responsible. I answer to him."
    White is happy to have Clark handling the video.
    "It's an invaluable service for us," said the coach.
    The Ducks keep Clark a busy man. He washes everything that players wear during contests and practices except for the actual game uniforms, which are handled by his boss, equipment manager John Mitchell. Clark only launders team-issued gear and cleans at the hotel during road outings — pre-treating stains, determining correct water temperatures and sorting, folding and delivering laundry.
    He has learned some tricks along the way.
    "Never underestimate the power of a toothbrush, soap and sink with hot water," he says. "A little elbow grease can get stains out. Also, ask what the stain is."
    As for cleats: "Scrubbing Bubbles," he says. "Works great."
    Money sometimes comes up in the wash — once as much as $50.
    "The girl claimed it," he says.
    Being a manager is time consuming. Clark does much of his homework at airports or hotels. His meals and lodging are covered on the road, with Clark either eating with the team or receiving money to buy food.
    "I think the travel is one of the harder parts of the job," he says. "I miss school. For the first five weeks of the season we are on the road. It is truly a yearlong commitment."
    That said, the trip to Honolulu in March was nice.
    "We took a Moped ride for four hours," he recalls. "It was beautiful."
    Growing up, Clark was often around aunt Don Don Williams — head softball coach at North Idaho College — and cousins who played the sport. He played baseball most of his childhood, competed in basketball and football all four years at North Medford High and did track for two seasons.
    He's grown to love softball.
    "Softball is a better sport than baseball," he says, "because it is so fast-paced, more intense and there's less room for error. Within 10 years it could be one of the bigger sports on TV."
    Clark attended North Idaho College and worked as a team manager under Williams for two years. He gained wisdom at Coeur d'Alene and was ready when an opportunity arose in Eugene three seasons ago.
    "It was lucky that they had an open slot, honestly," says Clark, who had planned on transferring to Oregon regardless.
    What might be the best thing of all about being a team manager is his relationship with the players.
    "They are all great," he says. "It's kinda cool to have a relationship with 18 people, and they are all so different. They are all so nice and so thankful."
    Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt
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