Originally created 12/16/04

Scholarship honors teen killed in crash

Former Lakeside soccer players will reunite at Panther Stadium on Saturday in memory of one of their own.

The fifth annual Men's and Women's Soccer Alumni Match Benefit for the Jenny Clark Scholarship Fund will kick off with the women's game at noon, followed by the men's game at 2 p.m.

Jenny Clark graduated from Lakeside in 1998, after playing for the Augusta Arsenal from 1993-98 and the Lakeside Panthers from 1996-98. She was voted most improved player in 1996 and best defensive player in 1997 and 1998.

In her senior year, she was selected for the Georgia High School State All-Star Team.

But, "it's not about her achievements," said her father, Tom Clark. "It's about her leadership."

In November 2000, at the age of 20, Jenny died from head injuries she suffered during a golf cart accident.

When sympathetic friends suggested a scholarship fund in Jenny's honor, her family found a way to keep her spirit alive.

"She maintained this spirit of positiveness that really just affected everyone on the team, and we (her family) believe that is what she is most remembered for," Tom Clark said.

"For us, her life had purpose, and her life had meaning, and her spirit touched a lot of people in a very positive way. And through her scholarship fund, her spirit continues to do that."

He said his daughter always looked at the bright side of any situation, and accepted anyone who played on her team.

These characteristics form the basic criteria the Clarks look for in scholarship recipients.

In the beginning, scholarships were awarded to one male and one female Lakeside soccer player.

But the fund has grown rapidly, allowing more students from other schools to be recognized as well. In 2004, five students received awards, including one from Thomson.

"As the scholarship grows, we hope to be able to recognize more people," Tom Clark said.

A soccer match seemed a natural means of raising money for the scholarship program.

This is the first year the men's and women's games will be played the same day, said Lakeside men's soccer coach Dave Morgan.

In addition, only Lakeside alumni will be playing. Last year, the match involved all-area high school alumni, resulting in four teams of more than 50 players. The match raised more than $1,500.

But it's difficult to contact each alumnus from each local school.

"It's not an easy event because you've got alumni all over the place, all over the state, all over multiple states," Clark said. "And you can't just send an e-mail and that's it. You've got to call. You've got to follow up. You've got to continue to call."

Clark and Morgan said the event was made possible through the efforts of Ann Heigle, whose son also played soccer for Lakeside. In addition to making those calls, maintaining the lists of alumni, organizing concessions and collecting donations, she puts together collages of each year's alumni teams.

Anyone who played soccer for Lakeside High School or who knows a former Lakeside soccer player and is interested in participating should contact Morgan or Heigle to get their name on the list, said Morgan, who can be reached at 868-3705, ext. 343.

Participating in the game costs $25,but admission will be free to spectators.

Two benefit concerts headlined by Redbelly and a golf tournament are also planned for 2005 to raise money for the fund.

"A lot of people keep asking us how we can keep doing this," Clark said. "We feel that it was a tragic event that happened. We can't change that. But we can help allow her spirit to continue to touch people positively with her scholarship money."


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