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Clark’s success a testament to the power of family

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all FORE one

Krysta Clark is the Manteca Bulletin 2008-09 Fall All-Area Golf MVP.

Bulletin staff/

POSTED December 23, 2008 11:51 p.m.

It started a little over four years ago, the summer before Krysta Clark’s freshman year at East Union.

Clark’s grandfather was first to suggest that perhaps the 2008 Manteca Bulletin All-Area Player of the Year had future in the sport of golf, and he backed up his prediction with his pocket book.

Sending Clark to a golf coach in Lodi was just the first step the young golfer’s family took in providing the foundation for what would become a lifetime endeavor.

Looking back on the four years that followed, Clark is quick to point out that without her family at home, and her family at East Union, none of it would have been possible.

“I want to thank my parents and grandparents for supporting me throughout the years,” Clark said. “They have come to all my tournaments and have travelled everywhere with me. They have put in a lot of time, effort, and money to get me to where I’m going today. My grandpa is the reason I started playing golf.”

Shortly after she picked up the basics in Lodi, Clark met East Union co-head coach Dennis Wells, the man she credits today, not only for her unparalleled success, but also for a tireless work ethic that dwarfs the efforts of even the most focused of high school student athletes.

“Hard work got me to where I am now,” Clark said. “So much time and effort. Coach Dennis has helped me a lot, he was a big part of it. Coach (Brian Goulart) and Coach (Ron Gutierrez) were a big part of it too, but coach Dennis has helped me so much over the offseason, sometimes six hours a day.

“When I was a freshman, he’d call me up on Saturdays and say ‘Where you at?’ And I’d say, ‘Watching TV.’ He’d say, ‘I’m coming to get you.’”

Four years later, it’s obvious just how powerful an impact Clark’s family, coaches and teammates have had on her.

Not only is she headed to Fresno State in the fall on scholarship, but she’s already won a prestigious California Junior Golf Association tournament, she’s claimed Valley Oak League Most Valuable Player honors twice, she’s been a part of or led East Union to back-to-back-to-back VOL and Sac-Joaquin Section Division III titles, she’s helped lead EU to the

Northern California state tournament — an absolutely rarity for a public school — and, alongside Lindsay Shoot, is considered part of the best golfing tandem ever to play at East Union High.

And even with a resumé that impressive, Clark still has the humility to both recognize and credit the people around her for helping her reach the apex of the high school golf game.

Simply put, Clark is a perfect example of the power of family.

2008 was a banner year for East Union golf.

After losing four seniors off a 2007 squad that was thought to be the best ever to play at EU, the questions were many heading into the fall.

Sure, Clark and Shoot were the stalwarts, but what of the younger players? Could they possibly live up to the accomplishments of their decorated predecessors?

The answer, of course, was an empathic “Yes, and then some.”

Not only did the Lancers match the 2007 squad’s performance, they topped it, gaining entrance into the NorCal tournament with a third place finish at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters event Nov. 4 at The Reserve at Spanos Park.

Clark battled through a bone bruise in her right wrist to finish with a 2-over-par 74, while Shoot shot a 79.

Besides a pair of golfers from tournament champion St. Francis, Clark and Shoot were the only golfers in Stockton to finish with sub-80 rounds.

“(The wrist injury) was kind of a good thing, because it made me realize how much I do love the game,” Clark said. “I couldn’t practice, I would just play the matches. I probably hit about half a bucket the day before. I had to do that before, (the) VOL (tournament), sections and masters. Our team played practice rounds at Spanos and I had to walk.

It gave me an appreciation of how much I love and missed it.”

Clark says her senior year with Shoot, a good friend, was a blast.

“It was cool,” she said. “It was really nice because we could show the younger players what to do, because for some of them it was their first year playing. Like Tori (Souza), she didn’t play at all last year. But she did great (this year).

Frances (Telles) improved a lot. Jill (Goulart) and Jackie (Ketner) did well the whole year. It was a fun team this year. Lots of laughs.”

Clark was impressed with Fresno State’s criminology department when she visited campus a few months ago, and says that a future in law enforcement, maybe even the FBI, is still a possibility down the road, but says she’s officially undecided on her major.

She’s also very aware of just how much work college student-athletes put in at the next level.

“I heard it is tough — time management — because we miss a lot of school,” she said. “The golf tournaments are travel Saturday, practice Sunday, play Monday and Tuesday. You do miss Monday and Tuesday of school, so it’s going to be tough.”

But if anyone can handle it, there’s no question it’s Clark.

In the meantime, Clark plans on playing in the Public Links Women’s Amateur, the Women’s U.S. Open qualifier, and even some more junior tournaments until she turns 18 in May.

There’s no doubt that Wells will continue to practice with Clark every afternoon at Manteca Park Golf Course, and that her family will be with her for every tournament on Clark’s busy schedule.

The power of family.

It’s a beautiful thing.

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