The competitive career of 2015 NC Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Clark Brisson has taken him a number of places, but when it is all sorted out, it becomes very much a tale of the two Carolinas. It is a fact that his collegiate game and much of his coaching and teaching experience have been in South Carolina, and he certainly has made an impact there. Yet we honor him in the Tar Heel state because it was here that his soccer foundation was laid, and it would be in Raleigh specifically that he would be a part of scholastic sports history.
As a University of South Carolina Gamecock from 1987-1990, Clark would score 36 goals and 26 assists, both top-six school records as of 2015. His best year statistically was 1989, with 50 points (21g, 8a), and this would lead to first team NSCAA All-America recognition. The USC overall record during his time there was 61-14-11 with four NCAA tournament years and a College Cup semifinal experience in 1988. He would cap off his collegiate career with a United States team appearance in the 1991 World University Games in England.
Professionally, Brisson would play for almost a decade, highlighted by six years indoors in the National Professional Soccer League, and would finish his playing days with the Charleston Battery of the U.S. A-League in 1999. Then, in 2000, he embarked on a coaching career, much of it in the Palmetto State, and as of mid-2014 was Director of Coaching for the Chicago Fire Juniors City club, the youth division of the MLS team.
In North Carolina, Brisson grew up playing for several teams, including the ’69 Raleigh Stars in the Capital Area Soccer League, and he did it well enough to be named to the CASL Hall of Fame in the inaugural players’ induction class in 2010. Guiding him at this time were two influential mentors, Steve Almasi and Clark’s father, Ike. But it was at Raleigh Sanderson High School that he made a name for himself and became part of one of the great high school stories in our state. In three varsity years (1984-1986), he scored 76 goals and had 45 assists. There were All-State and All-American recognition in ’85 and ’86, and he was the MVP in the state final in 1986 in the Spartans win over Winston-Salem Reynolds. And as a team member, he was part of a then national record of 103 wins without a loss (1982-87), one not surpassed nationally for almost a decade. During his three varsity years, Sanderson would go 71-0-4. On October 2, 2011, Clark was inducted into the Charter Class of the Sanderson Athletics Hall of Fame.
Brisson cites two influences: Sanderson coach Bob Catapano (NC Soccer HOF 1999) and Don Worley, his club coach outside of high school. Catapano writes, “…listing his honors doesn’t do justice to describing the impact he had on games…. His speed, with and without the ball, was a factor that few opponents could match. His ability to connect with teammates in tight spaces made playing with him a joy. His desire and ability to ‘take the game into his own hands’ when the outcome was in doubt was a trademark …. I’m telling you … the kid could play!”
That’s one Hall of Famer talking about another, all made in North Carolina.
Welcome home, Clark Brisson.