"We almost dressed up as women to sneak in the women's clinic so we did not want to go that route," Chris Clark said Sunday.
Luckily for the Clark men, first-year Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney came
up with an idea to give the men an inside look at the Clemson football
program. Clark and his father, along with 11 other men, spent the weekend
at Swinney's first Clemson Fantasy Camp and capped it off with the All-in
Bowl at Memorial Stadium.
"It was nice that Coach Swinney put this on for us (men)," said Clark, a
1995 Clemson graduate from Atlanta. "We used to always be so jealous of my
Mom and my wife getting to go to women's clinics and we always said that
if something like this would happen we would definitely go. When it came
out, Dad called me up and said we have to go.
"So even in a tough economy we found a way to get up here and share this
experience together so this is something I will never forget."
What makes it even more special was the fact Clark was named the Most
Valuable Player of the All-in Bowl after intercepting three passes, while
returning one for a touchdown as his team, which was the black team, beat
the white team, 31-28, in overtime.
"The game itself was fun and was actually very competitive," Swinney said.
"I thought it went really well for our first time. We tried to make
everything as realistic as we possibly could. Today was a great
culmination of the weekend."
Clark gave the game ball to his father to take back with him to
Charleston. David Clark was unable to play in the game after hurting his
calf muscle during pregame warm ups.
"I wanted to go out there and do well in the game," Chris Clark said. "I
got the touchdown and I wanted to give him the ball after I got it. It
meant a lot to win the MVP. I will be sending that game ball back with Dad
to Charleston as I head back to Atlanta."
Clark was just one of many Sunday that left Death Valley, not only happy,
but a little more appreciative as to what it takes for the coaches to run
a big-time program and what it takes for the players to be ready to play
on fall Saturday afternoons.
"I have a better understanding of the game, the Xs and the Os," said
Spartanburg's Floyd Elliott, whose trip to the Fantasy Camp was a birthday
present from his wife. "When I watch a game, I'm probably going to be
ruined because I will probably see exactly what's going to happen before
"I have been around sports all of my life, but I really did not know how
intense it was until I really got in there. They crammed a great deal of
information on us in two days and then we had to go to the practice field
and go through the practice drills and we were worn out on the warm ups
and then we had to still do the drills.
"The thing is you have a great appreciation for what these young men have
to go through. If 80,000 people can come in here and take this fantasy
camp, then they will understand that."
Chris Clark understands that.
"This is something that you follow all of your life and it's a part of the
family. It's a part of you," he said. "It definitely ranks up there as one
of the top things I've done in my life because it is something you have
grown up with.
"(Clemson) has a special place in my heart and to be able to put myself in
these cleats and these pads and get out here and have kind of a little bit
of an idea of what these players go through and what kind of commitment it
takes for them to get ready for the season — it just really helps put
everything into perspective when you see these guys take the field."
Camp allows fans to appreciate players
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