With an Aug. 5 kickoff looking more and more likely, 2 and Out writers Troy Durrell and Kyle Marshall will be talking to players off all nine CFL teams to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, their off-season training and their level of optimism of the season starting on time. This week’s guest is Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive lineman Dan Clark.
The longest tenured member of the green and white is living out a dream playing for his hometown team and is itching to throw the pads back on and battle.
Dan Clark knew in high school that he wanted to be a professional athlete and was approached by the football coach at Thom Collegiate in Regina between grades eight and nine about playing on the team.
It was his time with Regina Minor Football that was instrumental to his football development. Clark said it taught him leadership, competitiveness, selflessness and really sparked his drive to the pros. “That’s really where I fell in love with football,” he said.
One of Clark’s favourite memories of the old Mosaic Stadium (then still Taylor Field) was being able to play on the field as a 13-year-old with the RMF.
Clark was signed by the Riders in 2009 and made his CFL debut on August 19, 2012, getting into seven games that season.
He helped the Riders to a Grey Cup victory the following year on the same field where he played as a teenager and has re-signed with his hometown team three times.
The best part of playing in Saskatchewan, according to Clark, is having his family there all the time. “Having kids, it kind of changes how you view wins and losses,” Clark said.
Being able to have his kids run on the field was always a dream and that was realized with his oldest, his daughter Kendall. Clark’s youngest, son Kashton, hasn’t been able to run on the field yet, but that is something he is looking forward to this season.
Aside from his family, he obviously loves playing for the fans. “Everybody’s given me so much in opportunities and it’s driven me to be the professional athlete that I am,” he said. “I know I can’t wait to get out in front of Rider Nation.”
Clark had a career year in 2019, starting all 18 games, was named a CFL and CFL West All-Star as well as the Roughriders’ Most Outstanding Lineman. He also played in his 100th career game in July of 2019.
He was hoping to build off of that in 2020 before the CFL season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which he tried to put a positive spin on.
Despite the uncertainty of the football season and the world, Clark said it was nice to slow down and just be around his family and experience things.
He got to have a birthday at home, which he said he hasn’t been able to do in awhile, he was able to watch his daughter ride a bike for the first time and he got really good at braiding her hair.
Former Rider and fellow Saskatchewan native Ben Heenan also offered Clark a job on his farm, which doesn’t provide many days off but he said it is great to be able to see what else drives Saskatchewan economically.
Clark’s concern once COVID hit was staying ready for when and if a season was to be played.
His training regimen didn’t really change much due to the pandemic, but he immediately had to figure out what he needed to build or acquire so that he could stay in playing shape.
He built his own squat rack, bench and used water jugs as dumbbells until a family donated some to him. The team gave players the option to work out at the stadium, but he chose to stay home, getting quality father/daughter time while he trained.
But the most difficult aspects about the lack of 2020 season for Clark was the lost time, the lack of transparency from the league and not seeing his son run on the field.
He is, however, very optimistic about the season starting on time in August and can’t wait to get back.
“We can’t be more excited,” Clark said. “Fortunately, God created this big skull and it cannot wait to head butt another human.”