Monday, February 9, 2009

Former Gryphon sees son follow him to NCWC

Northern Nash senior catcher Tyler Clark, flanked by his parents Greg and Lisa, signs to play baseball at N.C. Wesleyan. Looking on are (l-r) Northern assistant coach Scott Benson and athletic director Dan Richwalski. Both of Clark's parents were standout athletes at NCWC. Father Greg also played baseball at RMHS. (Photo/Geoff Neville)

By Geoff Neville, Nashville Graphic

RED OAK -- If the leaf doesn’t fall too far from the tree, Tyler Clark is destined to enjoy a successful baseball career at North Carolina Wesleyan College.

Clark is the son of Greg Clark, a former All-American at N.C. Wesleyan who starred for the Battling Bishops from 1979-82.

How good was Clark? So much so that he was a member of N.C. Wesleyan’s inaugural Athletics Hall of Fame Class in 1999 -- along with the likes of Mike Fox, Don Scalf and Roger Taylor. Clark even has had his jersey retired by the school.

Tyler Clark is now intent on forging his own diamond path at Wesleyan -- as soon as he closes out his career this spring with the Northern Nash Knights.

Last Wednesday on the NNHS campus, Tyler Clark signed a letter-of-intent to join the Wesleyan baseball program. Three former Knights -- Jonathan Lucas, Andrew Webb and Daniel Moore -- are currently on the NCWC roster.

Baseball has always been in Tyler Clark’s blood, going back to his days with the Nashville Recreation Department. Clark was on a Babe Ruth State Championship Team with Nashville, along with several of his current Northern Nash teammates.

Tyler Clark was an outfielder back then, but he soon took up catching, and that would eventually become his position of preference.

After playing at Red Oak Middle School, Tyler Clark spent one season on the JV team at Northern before taking over the varsity catching duties as a sophomore in 2007.

And what a campaign that would be for the Knights. Handling a strong pitching staff that included fellow senior and East Carolina University signee Tyler Joyner, Tyler Clark helped Northern Nash reach the Class 3-A State Semifinals.

Northern dropped a three-game series to a loaded and eventual champion C.B. Aycock squad (two games to one), but that didn’t take away from NN’s amazing campaign.

Tyler Clark will close out his Northern career as a three-year starter behind the plate. Last season, Tyler Clark led the Knights with a sparkling .365 batting average. He also threw out 18 baserunners while earning all-conference honors.

Tyler Clark, along with several boyhood friends and long-time teammates, will have one final go-round this spring for the Knights in the competitive NEW 6 Conference.

He is Northern’s third signee from this current senior class. In addition to Joyner’s signature with East Carolina, NN’s Mike Williams has already inked a letter-of-intent to play at the University of North Carolina-Pembroke.

Clark, Williams and Joyner were all teammates on the Nashville State Championship Squad, and each of them played key roles in Northern Nash’s march toward the Class 3-A State Semifnals two campaigns ago.

But baseball isn’t Tyler Clark’s only endeavor. The son of teachers Greg and Lisa Clark, Tyler was also taught at a young age the value of being successful in the classroom.

It’s a message that Tyler Clark took to heart, and it would prove to be a message that would pay off for him when it was time to finalize his plans for college.

At North Carolina Wesleyan, Clark will receive the prestigious President’s Scholarship, which will help pay off a substantial amount of his tuition.

Clark’s grade-point average is well over 4.0 at Northern Nash, and he may also be able to qualify for other forms of scholarship aid before he heads across Nash County to begin his stint at North Carolina Wesleyan.

NC Wesleyan is a powerhouse Division III program with a lofty tradition -- a tradition that Greg Clark helped build over 30 years ago.

For the Clark Family, the tradition will live on at Wesleyan four more years.

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