When Canadian soccer player Krystiana Clarke suffered a season-ending injury in 2010 in her third-year at Miami University of Ohio, she was devastated. Just a few weeks earlier, she had her first multi-goal game and was on track for her highest points production.
So severe was the left knee injury which required surgery that Clarke was forced to take a medical redshirt in her final season and serve as a student assistant coach.
Back in Toronto with no school bills after being awarded a full scholarship, Clarke is fulfilling her dream of working with young people and coaching.
“After damaging my knee cap and undergoing major surgery, I knew that was basically the end of my career as a soccer player,” she said. “That was hard because I started playing the game at age five and did well at almost every level. But injuries do occur and I had to shift the focus from being a player to what I was going to do once I graduated.”
The Scarborough resident was recently appointed director of athletics at Lytton Sports Camps that offer multi-sports programs across the city. Her responsibilities include designing new and innovative programming to elevate the camps’ soccer program to an elite level. She’s also responsible for designing after-school initiatives.
“We recruited Krysti heavily,” said Lytton Sports Camps owner/director Shawn Reynolds. “We are excited to have someone with her credentials. She has a wealth of knowledge and a lifetime of experiences in athletics having attended a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division One program for four years…We are looking to elevate our soccer program and she’s going to be an important piece to that development.”
The new challenge excites Clarke who underwent a second knee operation in February 2013.
“I have a passion for teaching and interacting with youths, so this is an ideal opportunity for me,” said Clarke who was a credit analyst for a year at American Express before embarking on her new role. “Young people are society’s most important resource and it’s important that we get them playing sport and leading healthy lives. I am just delighted to be part of an organization that promotes those ideals.”
Clarke was in high demand from American universities after graduating from Agincourt Collegiate Institute where she was the student body president. The Miami Redhawks were among nearly 20 schools bidding for the striker who represented the Ontario Soccer League Dixie Saints Under-18 side and scored 23 goals for Scarborough United in 2005.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Ohio where I was able to play the game I love and get an education,” said Clarke who graduated with a kinesiology degree. “That phase of my life was fulfilling and I am now on to a new chapter.”
Clarke is the holder of an Ontario Soccer Association Level Three referee certification.