The US Quidditch Tackle Development Project & James C. Clark
US Quidditch has embarked on a 10-month process, running from January to November, 2015, to research the quidditch tackle style and explore areas for improvement in its safety, form, efficiency, and training. We are honored to name the project after Sgt. James C. Clark, Grandfather of Dawn Karpoff. The Karpoff family made this project possible with a significant gift to US Quidditch, and the new official quidditch tackle style will be called the Sgt. James Clark Tackle (or the Clark Tackle for short) in honor of Sgt. Clark and the Karpoff family. Below is an account of James Clark’s life, written by Dawn Karpoff, with photos and newspaper clippings provided by the Karpoff family.
James “W3YEZ” Clark
By Dawn Karpoff
James C. Clark was simply the bravest man we ever knew. As a young boy in Ashland, Ky., he was struck by a truck and sustained a severe head injury. The damage was so extensive the doctors told his brothers they would always have to take care of him because he would never be right in the head. Indeed, it would be a hard road to recovery as his mother Josephine had to teach him to walk and talk all over again. He would always have a large horseshoe-shaped scar on top of his mostly bald head as a permanent reminder. As part of his therapy his parents sent young James to Berea, Ky., to learn the art of making beautiful handcrafted brooms. When the family relocated to Butler, Pa., to work in the new Armco Steel mill, they boarded briefly in the home of Minta Lura Jack and her daughter Betty. James became restless and joined a traveling carnival where he learned muggle magic techniques such as fire eating, sword swallowing, and putting his tall thin frame through small steel hoops.
When World War II began, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps where he would not need a broom to fly. In his plane, “The Boiler Maker” (named for Purdue University, the pilot's alma mater), he flew hundreds of hours on missions, earned decorations he would never boast about and yet survived to marry and make a home with Betty Jack Clark. He worked hard at the Armco Butler works to support his family of three children. He became an amateur ham radio operator, call sign W3YEZ, and used his ham skills to keep in touch with his father, James Hargess, in Orlando and help connect servicemen far from home with their families. He always looked out for others, and was always ready to be a helpful, useful member of his community.
When two sons-in-law were called away by another war, he looked after his daughters and grandchildren until they came home safely. Frequenting Radio Shack for his ham shack supplies, he came across the Tandy TRS80 computer. Being the creative man he was, he got the notion the new device could be used to organize the many different departments involved in the production of a coil of steel. When IBM refused to take on the project, James decided to do it himself. He took community college courses in computer programming and built the plant's first workflow management system in his spare time – after early mornings, long days, and handling the many responsibilities that came with being a homeowner, husband, father, and grandfather. Now steel could be made more cost-effectively as Jim went through the mill every day handing out the coordinated schedules to each department.
James C. Clark was a creative innovator who cared deeply for others in his community. He was a strong believer in physical activity as a part of a balanced life. He saw competition and teamwork as essential. Armco Steel Mill had held an “Iron Man” competition in association with The National Safety Council each year since 1925, wherein “the thinking man respects safety” was engraved on the coveted statue awarded to the mill with the best safety record that year. W. H. Hunter, the Armco Ambridge Works manager, said it best: “While winning this safety award is one of the most coveted honors in this company, the really memorable thing was the fine effort put forth by all the employes to reduce injuries.” Though James was his competitor, they were like minded when it came to safety.
We have no doubt he would have loved the game of Quidditch for all the same reasons we all do: the athleticism, the magic, the adventure, the acceptance of all people, the music, and the cool merchandise – especially the brooms! He stood for the very same concepts of Creativity, Community, and Competition that this sport is committed to embodying. When Alex Benepe told us about U.S. Quidditch's audacious plan to have a rugby expert design a perfect tackle, we immediately thought of the innovation James Clark brought to the steel mill, revolutionizing the way things are done to make life better for everyone. In keeping with his spirit, we are thrilled to help build a sport where skill and finesse are what is required, where bodies are not broken for the amusement of others but made better, stronger, fitter, and faster while respecting and caring for the brain … because these are the brains, bodies, and emotions that will revolutionize our world. Quidditch players must take care to use every means at their disposal to avoid concussion and injury in the pursuit of the Cup so that their impact in the world can be maximized. James C. Clark lived an amazing life despite an early brain injury. From his commitment as foreman to safety in the pursuit of the Iron Man award at the Armco Butler Works, it's clear he would want to save anyone he could from ever going through the arduous recovery process he endured. Therefore, we are very proud to announce that in his honor we will be naming the new tackle the “Sgt. James Clark Tackle”.