MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. – The Georgia College & State University athletic department and director Wendell Staton are proud to announce the hiring of Hope Clark as the third women’s soccer coach in school history. Clark comes to Milledgeville after three seasons as the head coach of the women’s soccer program at Auburn University Montgomery.
“We are thrilled that Hope Clark has decided to lead our soccer program at Georgia College,” said Staton. “She has proven herself as an outstanding head coach while leading her last program to national success. The winning on the field was equaled by the success of the team in the classroom and in the community. I am most pleased for our student-athletes who will be challenged every day to be their best. Coach Clark brings a great value system, tremendous energy, professionalism, and attention to detail to our University. We look forward to her taking our outstanding program to even greater heights.”
Clark compiled a 35-22-4 mark in her three years at AUM, including advancing to the second round of the 2009 NAIA National Championship Tournament. In her three seasons, the Lady Senators had seven All-Americans, six all-region players and 13 total all-conference honorees. In 2009, AUM was an impressive 15-5-2, falling by penalty-kick shootout in the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Championship to the eventual 2009 National Champions. The Lady Senators opened the NAIA National Tournament with a 5-3 drubbing of Embry-Riddle before falling in the second round 3-2 to No. 3 California Baptist.
The 2007 Lady Senators, Clark’s first squad as a collegiate head coach, finished with a strong 14-5-1 record, advanced to the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament semifinals and earned a berth in the NAIA regional tournament. Clark’s 2008 team struggled through a tough regular-season schedule combined with injuries to finish just 6-12-1, but did advance to the semifinals of the conference tournament and produced the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Offensive Player of the Year, two first-team All-SSAC players and an All-American.
“I am excited for the opportunity to lead the Lady Bobcat’s Women’s Soccer program,” said Clark. “I truly believe that Georgia College is the best place for me and look forward to a very successful career. I am blessed for the experience and success that the team and I achieved at AUM and am very grateful for the support of so many people, for without them I would not be here. The Georgia soccer community has always supported me and I am thankful for the chance to return.”
Clark has previously worked in Georgia, where she spent one year as head coach of varsity boys soccer at Spalding High School. Her collegiate coaching experience includes two seasons (2002-03) as an assistant at the University of Tampa, where she was directly responsible for the training and development of the Spartans’ goalkeepers. In both of her seasons at Tampa, UT’s goalie was voted second-team all-conference and the 2003 Tampa team reached the NCAA postseason.
Clark’s first collegiate coaching experience came as an assistant at American University in Washington, D.C., in 2000-01. In 2001, Clark’s work with the Eagles’ goalkeeper helped American earn a Patriot League co-championship and All-Patriot League and All-Patriot League Tournament honors for the student-athlete.
Clark spent 2004 through 2006 helping develop some of the top youth soccer talent in Georgia as a staff coach with the Olympic Development Program/Georgia Youth Soccer Association. In addition, she spent 2006 as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Glory United Football Club in Hampton, Ga., and 2004 and 2005 as director of goalkeeping and staff coach for the AFC Lightning Soccer Club in Fayetteville, Ga.
A native of Louisiana, the former Hope Handley played collegiate soccer as a goalkeeper at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. She was a member of VT’s first-ever recruiting class as a freshman in 1994 and lettered all four years at Tech. As a sophomore, Clark was selected as the Hokies’ most valuable player and named third-team All-Mid-Atlantic Region following a season in which she set the Atlantic-10 Conference single-season record for saves with 179. Clark was the first Tech women’s soccer player ever named All-Mid-Atlantic Region.
Clark played semi-professional soccer in 2005 and 2006 with the Atlanta Silverbacks in the women’s division of the United Soccer Leagues. She has been the assistant director of The Last Defense Goalkeeping Academy and worked with Region 3 Olympic Development Program on staff. Clark earned her bachelor’s degree in exercise science and health promotion from Virginia Tech and her master’s degree in fitness management from American University.
The Bobcats had another successful season in 2009, taking third in the Peach Belt Conference (PBC) with a 5-1-4 mark, 10-6-5 overall, their third-straight 10-win season. Six Bobcats were named all-conference in 2009, led by the first All-American in school history, goalkeeper Mary Rob Plunkett.
The GCSU Department of Athletics, back-to-back winners of the PBC Commissioner's Cup, sponsors 10 varsity athletic programs at the NCAA Division II level. As a Division II program, Georgia College prides itself on balancing the life of the student-athlete, evidenced by the Bobcats' multiple appearances in post-season competition as well as documented academic success and community-service involvement. Sign up at www.twitter.com/GCSUSID for up-to-the-minute reports, and visit www.GCSUBobcats.com to nominate your favorite former Bobcats and Colonials to the GCSU Athletics Hall of Fame.