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Faith on the field: Soccer camp honors late Forsyth County teammate Nathan Clark

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LEWISVILLE, N.C. -- Soccer is a team sport, and as kids kick the ball around the back field at the Forsyth Country Day School, they're reminded of the one teammate who cannot join them.

"You can tell that these kids love Nathan," said camp founder Wells Thompson. "You can tell that it's still hard, it's still very real and very fresh."

Nathan Clark was killed in a hotel room ahead of a soccer tournament in Raleigh back in 2014. A stray bullet hit Nathan in his sleep, fired from an adjacent room.

"He had a big impact on my life. I didn't realize how much I missed him until he was gone," said Clark's friend Colby Hales.

The Wells Thompson Soccer Camp is dedicated to Clark's memory. A handful of professional players with ties to Major League Soccer and Winston-Salem run the camp, but Wells says they go beyond just fundamental foot skills.

"We want to teach them the game, but we also want to share our faith with them, talk to them about Jesus," Thompson said. "Help them see what it’s like to be a man of character."

Close friends like Hales appreciate the camp, which is now in its fourth year.

"All these guys, all the pros, they love the Lord," Hales said. "And it's just awesome to see because Nathan loved the Lord, and he always had a smile on his face."

The camp honors one kid each year who plays with the same enthusiasm and good-will approach to the game and life like Nathan Clark did. This year it went to 9-year-old Simon Tonidandel.

"I just play like it’s a game and its fun, and I work hard to accomplish my goals," Tonidandel said.

That love of the game is shared by many kids on the field. And while Nathan Clark may not be there to receive a pass or rip a shot, campers feel he's certainly there in spirit.

"Nathan is more alive now than he ever has been, and that we'll see him again," Thompson said.