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Claimed:Friday Night Ice: The Michael Clardy Story [Final 10/10]


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Friday Night Ice

 

There was a destined sign that Michael Clardy, born January 22, 1994, would be a warm person in a cold environment. That sign, so it happened, came through a freak ice storm merely 2 weeks after his birth in Memphis, Tennessee in the public hospital where his mother worked as a nurse. Clardy was born a poor black child by circumstance, but was brought home to a loving family that came from a rich oil and gas bloodline (or pipeline, if you will) on the mother's side and a poor subsistence farming crop on his father's side. This diverse pair came together and produced what would become the next great VHLM prospect.

 

The Formative Years

 

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Michael Clardy's childhood home in Memphis, TN, just off the road from Galloway Golf Course

 

As a child, Clardy was subject to the harsher winters of the slow river town on the southwest side of Tennessee, experiencing the cold snow, the breezy river winds, and the still chills between the magnolias that lined every major street and neighborhood park. This cold led to some massive eating habits, where young Michael stored up on carbohydrates ranging from sweet potatoes to Goldfish to toast and cereal. This, combined with some early physical activity, made Michael a bigger child than those in his age group.

 

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Michael's seat at his first Dallas Cowboys game, out at the old Texas Stadium

 

When the family up and left Memphis and the big pyramid to settle closer to home in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, Michael was in the early stages of forming prejudices, opinions, favorites, and personality on many levels. One of those levels, one that is heavily emphasized in big ol' Texas, was sports, and Michael soon became a religious Dallas Cowboys fan, not having many ties to his more "native" Tennessee Titans. This led to a fascination to the game of football and Michael was in the right area to develop his football IQ, so to speak. Studying line formations, defensive arrangements, and predicting passing routes and blitzing schemes was second nature to a young Michael Clardy, much like many children are first nature to comic books or video games. Sports and athletes became his obsession and football was his religion.

 

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The Dallas Stars after their 1999 Stanley Cup victory, a series Clardy watched from his home just miles away from the AAC

 

Around the time Michael came to Dallas was the time of the dominant new Dallas Stars, an NHL team that was making waves since leaving the frozen taiga of Minnesota for "warmer shores" in Texas. The Stars were on the move and caught Michael in their quest for dominance. Clardy was there for some key games in their regular season ascension to fame and watched as Brett Hull scored the controversial goal to give Dallas their first Stanley Cup. Naturally, the impressionable young boy in Michael took up the game with a fervent fire and had his list of sports made. 1. Football, 2. Hockey.

 

School and Adolescence

 

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Christian Ponder, Clardy's idol at quarterback, taking snaps for Colleyville Heritage before his years in the NFL

 

Clardy would soon enjoy life in school, being placed in the Grapevine-Colleyville school district. This led to Clardy going to lots of high school football games during his early school years. Every Friday night, the family, mainly his dad and himself, would go to the stadium (big enough for some small college games) and watch as the high flying Panthers took on the local powerhouses, including 3 time State Champion Southlake Carroll Dragons, hated cross-town rival Grapevine Mustangs, and others in the area. Clardy loved to see the defensive game evolve and watch the offenses struggle against the big linebackers and such from Colleyville.

 

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Clardy taking the ball down the field after a fumble recovery for his Colleyville Colts

 

This led to Clardy taking up school football in middle school, something that he had to give up other activities to do. He managed to stay active in Boy Scouts and the band, but gave up his recreational hockey to go play football. This led to him playing for the B team and playing well, being a star lineman for the Colleyville Colts and being one of the small glimmers in a 1-8 season. The next season would be better as Clardy moved up to the A team as he grew smarter and played better defense, watching the gaps open up and fill the holes on the line so the running game would be removed and offenses would have to pass against a talented secondary. Unfortunately, that translated into a 4-5 season and more defeat for Clardy. He would give up sports for a few years.

 

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Ponder comes back to CHHS and talks to Clardy's team as they go out to finish the season 9-1

 

Finally Clardy got his chance to play for his coveted Panthers in his senior year of high school, though only in a limited role as a depth lineman. This was ok, because Clardy was a film rat and knew the team's tendencies so he could help his linemates. That knowledge and their raw physical ability on the turf, under the Friday Night Lights Clardy once enjoyed from the stands, led to a 9-1 season where the only loss came in overtime to a state champion contender in Euless Trinity. Even though the Panthers lost badly in the 1st round of the playoffs, Clardy got to live his dream and be on the gridiron, even if it was only for a few plays.

 

The Switch

 

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Clardy practices with his recreational team the Buffalo Soldiers outside Houston

 

Clardy graduated CHHS and left to study Chemical Engineering at the University of Houston just 4 hours down I-45 and left his football dreams of being a player behind him. High school football is one thing, but Clardy could never become a full-fledged Division 1 football player. This led to him taking up another sport, his second sport: hockey.

 

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Clardy celebrates a goal he scores with his recreational team prior to his VHLM announcement

 

Hockey wasn't nearly as big in Houston as it was in Dallas. Case in point, the year Michael moved to Houston was the year the Houston Aeros moved to Iowa and Clardy was left without a hometown team to root for in H-Town hockey. This led to a lot of recreational play and Clardy's defensive IQ was put to good use playing his old defensive position. Clardy was able to become good enough of a skater to become a great threat on the ice, covering passing lanes before they opened and taking away opportunities from streaking playmaking opponents. This sort of switch ignited a fire under Clardy, something that he carried for 3 years in Houston before making his decision to become a professional.

 

WC: 1138 Words
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Overview: 5/5 - Great Biography here. Very in-depth and I enjoyed the read of his football career. For a Bio not focused a ton on hockey, it was very interesting to me.

 

Grammar: 3/3 - I actually didn't find anything. Great work for such a lengthy write-up.

 

Presentation: 1/1 - More than enough pictures and it all flows well.

 

Over 1000 Words? 1/1

 

Overall: 10/10

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