By CHRIS HOBBS
CLAREMONT — Bunker Hill High head football coach Patrick Clark has resigned, telling the Bears he will move back to Tennessee to be closer to his aging parents.
The school announced Clark’s decision in a press release on Tuesday morning.
The press release:
Bunker Hill head football coach Patrick Clark has announced that he will resign from that position effective immediately.
On Monday evening, Clark met with his coaching staff to let them know that he will step down so he can move back to Tennessee in order to be closer to his family. Clark broke the news to his players Tuesday morning.
Clark told his athletes: “You’ve come a long way, and you’ve put your backs into it. I’m proud of you, but this is something I’ve got to do. In three years, you have flipped this thing around, but it’s like I told (Bunker Hill principal) Mr.(Lee) Miller, I’ve got to go back to my Claremont.”
Clark went on to tell his squad, “It’s a change, guys. But you’ve got to embrace it and keep after it.”
About his departure, Clark told the Bunker Hill administration: “This has been a very difficult decision and my heart is torn. This has been a decision based off my family. My son, who I am very proud of, has graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne and is becoming a very successful teacher and coach. At the same time, my parents are getting older and need my help more. It is tough when Dad is eight hours away and Mom is three. It is time to go home to Tennessee.”
A 2001 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Clark spent time teaching in Gaston County, where he also began his trek to becoming a high school head coach by playing that role at John Chavis Middle School. From there, he worked his way into high school by serving as defensive coordinator at Cherryville, followed by North Gaston. At those schools, Clark also coached women’s soccer where he earned accolades as the 2014 Big South’s Soccer Coach of the Year. In 2015, Clark moved to Catawba County where he assisted in football at Maiden High. During his tenure there, he also served as special teams’ coordinator. In addition, he also coached girls’ soccer, where he was named the 2017 SD-7 Coach of the Year.
Bunker Hill hired Clark in February 2018 after previous head coach Dave Haynie retired. Clark has led the Bears for the last three seasons. When Clark took the reins, Bunker Hill had not made a playoff appearance since 2013, and they had only amassed only four wins in the previous four seasons.
In Clark’s inaugural season, the Bears went 2-9, but they managed to go .500 in 2019 with a 6-6 record and their first playoff appearance in six years. His coaching performance that year led to him receiving recognition as the Northwestern Foothills Athletic Conference’s Coach of the Year, as well as being named the HDR Catawba County Coach of the Year.
This past season, Clark’s Bears made it to their second consecutive playoff appearance and finished runner-up in the Northwestern Foothills Athletic Conference. The Bears went 6-1 during the regular season, with their only loss to league champion Hibriten before falling in the first round to Henderson High School.
Bunker Hill Principal Lee Miller made the following comments regarding Clark’s resignation: “In his three years at Bunker Hill, Coach Clark has laid a solid foundation for our football program. His hard work, determination, and connection to our student-athletes has turned our program around.
“Our school family will miss Coach Clark’s caring demeanor and the invaluable leadership he has provided our young people. As a school administrator, it was refreshing to see a coach and his staff work with student-athletes to develop integrity, character, and accountability.
“Bunker Hill is a better place because of Patrick Clark’s leadership. We wish him nothing but the best as he enters this new chapter in his life.”
Bunker Hill will begin the search for a new head coach immediately. Anyone interested in the position may apply through the Catawba County Schools Jobs Board on Teacher Match.