Among Mark Clark's many passions is breathing life into sports websites.
Mark Clark has limitless energy. His interests stretch to infinity. To list his hobbies is to push the boundaries of the alphabet and capacity of the internet.
In no particular order, Clark is into space, science, sports, snow blowing in his shorts … and that’s just the letter S.
Photography is another passion. So are Legos (Clark and his two sons, Zach, 11, and Jered, 14, and are avid collectors, and they have entered their creations in numerous shows).
Clark, 44, grew up playing sports, and last winter was still tugging on his skates once a week for men’s league hockey games. The bulk of Clark’s time, however, is spent mostly in the north Chicago suburbs shuttling his boys to their various after-school and weekend sporting events (soccer, football, golf and lacrosse are among the current favorites).
I'm lucky if I get my grass cut."
“I’m lucky if I get my grass cut,” Clark said. “Yesterday, as an example, my little guy is in an all-star lacrosse tournament from 4 to 8 p.m. In the middle of that, I have to get the older guy to golf, between 5 and 6. I probably put a thousand miles on my car.”
A network engineer at Xentris Wireless, Clark heads to work every morning at 5 a.m. Clark’s schedule not only allows him to beat Chicago's notorious bumper-to-bumper traffic, it also gets him home in the early afternoon -- just in time to hop back in the car and chauffeur his boys to their practices and games.
Name: Mark Clark | Age: 44 | Resides in: Cary, Ill.
Family: Wife, Stephanie; sons, Jered, 14 and Zach, 11
Job: Information Systems Manager at Xentris Wireless
Interests: Space, science, Legos, photography, website building
Mark Clark is a website builder and administrator by day -- and night. Clark's profession -- he implemented and manages the ecommerce web portal at Xentris Wireless -- is also his passion. Clark has built numerous sites, and he stays connected with his sons' youth sports activities by volunteering as the webmaster for Junior Wolves Football and Cheerleading. Registration, upcoming events, news and a link to the Jr. Wolves' apparel store all are front and center on the site. Much of the specialty graphics work is done courtesy of Clark. Every good website has unexpected content, and the link to a video of a Jr. Wolves team showing some of its "greatest moves yet" certainly qualifies.
Building and maintaining websites is one aspect of Clark’s job. It’s also his No. 1 hobby. During the late night and early morning hours, before going to sleep and ahead of that pre-dawn drive to work, Clark works on his assorted sites. He’s the webmaster of the Crystal Lake-based Jr. Wolves Football and Cheerleading site powered by Sport Ngin.
“I don’t sleep much,” Clark said.
Clark built a site for Modern Wave, his sister’s salon and spa in Cary. He created REELJockeys, a movie review site that houses the opinions of his alter-ego, “Doctor,” and of his father-in-law Ed Slater (known as “Scarpacci” on the site). Clark and Slater also teamed up on what they coined as a “Mancation” in the spring of 2009. They spent a week in Florida at NASA attending astronaut training. The training regimen, designed to offer a taste of what becoming a real astronaut entails, included what Slater described as a “three-axis exerciser.”
"They strap you into this machine about as big as a room,” Slater said. “I’m not much for thrill rides. It would have finished me off, but Mark ate it up.”
These days Clark is leaner and more energized than ever. He has lost 125 pounds, the result of gastric bypass surgery in September. “I have to keep up with these two clowns,” Clark said about his sons.
Slater said he sees a more confident son-in-law since the surgery.
“It was certainly for the good,” Slater said. “He doesn’t ever think about being the big guy in the room anymore. He thinks about being another element in the room, rather than being the big guy.”
I want to make sure it looks really, really good. I like diving into that stuff."
Clark’s work on the Jr. Wolves site melds his intense interest in his sons' activities with his website building and graphic design passions. He hopes to add a few new wrinkles this year, and has been working on improved league and team functionality. The Jr. Wolves serve as a feeder program to Prairie Ridge High School, and teams at all levels use the same playbook. Clark is hoping to load the playbook behind member only pages so they can be available to all the program’s coaches and players.
“A lot of people will have a basic site set up for them and just leave it like that,” Clark said. “I want to make sure it looks really, really good. I like diving into that stuff.”