He could have landed closer to home, but just like the length of his kicks, Chatham football player Clark Green landed a long way from where he started.
Green is entering his second season with the Concordia University Stingers football team in Montreal. After serving as the Stingers’ starting punter last year, Green is ready to go, and ready to challenge for more responsibility.
“It was a really good experience, coming into the Quebec league with huge schools, playing in front of big crowds was great,” said Green about his freshman experience.
“It was great that I got to come in right away and start at punting. It was a lot easier for me to focus in my first year just being alone out there punting; it took a lot of pressure off me, but hopefully next year I get to do all three kicking roles.”
Punting 69 times for a total of 2437 yards, or an average of 35.3 yards, pinning his opponents inside the 20 a total of 12 times, Green was more than satisfactory as the Concordia punter. His freshman year even included setting a new RSEQ record, kicking a 90-yard punt early in the season.
The Chatham-Kent Secondary School grad, however, isn’t happy with one big kick; he wants to go the distance every time he steps on the field.
“Always my goal is to be more consistent than last season,” says Green. “I’m aiming for a higher punting average next season, getting rid of that one bad punt a game.”
Green also hopes to take over the starting field goal and kick off roles. He got a taste of each kicking position last year, going 2-for-2 in extra point attempts, and completing five kickoffs, with an average of 46.6 yards.
Despite his on-field success, Green still faced similar challenges to any young athlete moving away from home. In particular, the distance from his father Jeff Green, who coached Clark all through minor and high school football, was a challenge.
“Going all the way through football with my dad helping me out with kicking, it was tough trying to be out there on your own, you obviously have a kicking coach, but it wasn’t really the same bond as me and my dad had,” said the younger Green.
Despite the distance, Green’s parents still made a handful of games, proving distance isn’t as important off the field as it is on.
“We as a family have invested a lot of time into sports,” said Jeff Green, who also coaches the CKSS Golden Hawks, Senior Varsity Chatham-Kent Cougars, and University of Windsor Lancers.
“We thought he’d go to a school closer by, but this school stood out to him and it was the place he wanted to go, so those trips, you had to make them,” added Green, who would often finish coaching in Chatham at 9 p.m. on Friday, drive all night with his wife to Montreal, and arrive in time to watch Clark play at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“We made it happen and it was always fun going there and experiencing the university environment,” said the elder Green.
“It’s a lot of driving,” acknowledged Clark, who credits his father for motivating him to practice and strive to reach the CIS level, “but I’m just happy he came to see me.”
Jeff Green, who said his new role as a fan is nerve racking when he’s used to coaching Clark on the sidelines, isn’t letting the distance stop him from giving Clark a few pointers before he heads back.
“The big thing is consistency, know your job, know your skills,” advises Jeff Green of Clark’s upcoming season. “Go in there and be consistent, and be a good teammate.”
As Clark again leaves home, making the long ride to Concordia this fall, he’ll continue sending the ball for long rides when he steps on the field to kick, hopefully not only in a punting role, but as Concordia’s starting kicker.
“Definitely, I’m going into camp this year fighting for a spot,” said the former Chatham-Kent Cougars standout. “It’s a clean slate. Going into this season I have a huge opportunity to do all three.”
The Concordia Stingers will open their season Sept. 6, when they host Bishop’s University.