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Longtime Notre Dame soccer coach Bobby Clark retires

After 17 seasons leading Notre Dame men's soccer, Bobby Clark is stepping aside.

The longtime head coach announced his retirement on Tuesday, just over a week after the Irish fell in the NCAA tournament.

According to a team release, Clark cited family and timing as the main reasons for his decision, issuing the following statement:

“This has been possibly the hardest decision I have had to make in my time at Notre Dame," he said. "I have loved my time at this University and, although I have kept postponing retirement, with my 73rd birthday coming up next year I felt it was time to be in a position to spend quality time with Bette, my wife of almost 50 years, my children and importantly my seven grandchildren. I have always looked at my team as extended family, so the players will be greatly missed. If I stretch my collegiate coaching career back to when I began at Dartmouth back in 1985 then I really do have a lot of extended family."

A native of Scotland, Clark came to Notre Dame in 2001 and proceeded to win more than 200 games with the Irish. That included a national championship in 2013, the same season Clark was named National Coach of the Year. During his tenure, Notre Dame posted a winning record in every season, and earned 16 NCAA Tournament appearances.

“Giving up a dream job teaching the sport that I am addicted to has not been easy. Never a week goes by without one of my former players dropping me an email or making a call. The biggest part of being a teacher/coach is that you, and the sport you teach, help them grow up in a positive yet competitive environment. That has been very fulfilling, but doing it in the special environment that has been created around Notre Dame is very rewarding. I must thank the Notre Dame athletic department, which is superbly run, all my assistant coaches, trainers, administrators, fellow coaches in other sports, the support staff and everyone who has helped make this a very special 17 years of my life.”

In the statement, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick offered his thoughts on Clark's retirement as well.

“Bobby Clark was born to teach, and the University of Notre Dame is very fortunate that for the last 17 years of a highly distinguished career his classroom was the Notre Dame men's soccer program,” Swarbrick said. “Bobby's focus on family, integrity and excellence made him a perfect match for Notre Dame. We will miss him greatly, and while Bobby is in many ways irreplaceable, his legacy is equally indelible.”

Clark was only the fifth head coach of the men's soccer program, and his 216 wins rank first among them.

In addition to coaching at Notre Dame, he also spent time with Dartmouth and Stanford.

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