Former Lion Hazlett finds football success in Czech Republic!
CZECH REPUBLIC – Lynden Lion, Linfield Wildcat, country music artist, popular international YouTuber, and now Czech Republic national champion.
These are a few of the many titles and accolades that Clark Hazlett carries with him; to say he is a man of many talents would be a critical understatement.
Hazlett, a former quarterback and utility player for Lynden, recently completed a championship season with the Vysocina Gladiators, an American football club that competes in the top division of the Czech League of American Football.
He was the team’s lone American player and was impressed by the level of competition within the league.
“What was kind of crazy for me is we had guys on the team from 18 years old all the way up to 42 years old,” Hazlett said. “The guy that was 42 years old was our best linebacker on the team – in the country actually. If he would have had opportunities in America, I think he would’ve played at a high level. His biceps were bigger than my leg.”
The 24-year-old Hazlett and his team won the Czech Bowl — the league’s Super Bowl equivalent — on Nov. 9, defeating the Prague Lions 23-0. It was the Gladiators’ first appearance in the title game since the club’s conception in 2012.
While serving as the team’s dual-threat quarterback on the field, Hazlett was also calling the plays as the Gladiators’ offensive coordinator.
“At the time I didn’t really think anything of it, but as I arrived, I realized quickly that I had to install a whole new offense,” Hazlett said. “Thankfully, the football language is very universal. Most of the guys on the team spoke English besides my offensive lineman.”
Hazlett said the skill players would relay information to the offensive line to assist the language barrier. The scheme he implemented was a spread offense that combined components from his high school playbook under the late Curt Kramme with concepts he ran in college.
He spent five seasons at Linfield University, an NCAA Division III program, from 2015-2019.
The Gladiators had one designated head coach, and the rest were player-coaches. Their Czech Bowl opponent, the Lions, had a full coaching staff and were the defending 2019 champions.
“So pretty much it was an American coaching staff versus this kid in a helmet on the field,” Hazlett said. “That really made the championship game feel so much better, just having more confidence in myself actually calling the whole game and being successful.”
He threw for one touchdown and rushed for two more in the championship game.
Meanwhile, he documented his experiences via his YouTube channel, Adventure Athlete, which has amassed a following of 167,000 subscribers. Hazlett started the channel in 2017 while at Linfield, showing what a day in the life of a college football player looks like.
Hazlett’s YouTube presence brought a lot of attention to the teams he’s played for, which is partially what originally sparked Vysocina’s interest in him.
He previously played overseas in France and had accepted offers in Brazil and Mexico before those seasons were canceled due to COVID-19.
“For my team in France I was able to get them over 700,000 views on a bunch of different videos,” Hazlett said. “I’ve been able to do the same thing for my team here in Czech.”
Hazlett recently signed to play arena football in the Fan Controlled Football league held in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s 7-on-7 football, and fans watching at home call the plays to be run on the field. His YouTube channel is what initially interested the league in signing him, once again.
That season will begin in March 2022, and thus Hazlett will be right back on the field only a few short months after winning the Czech Bowl.
“It’s going to be really cool, but also interesting at the same time,” he said.
When he wasn’t playing football, Hazlett was actively building a country music career. He had a lot of time to do so upon arriving in Brazil and being forced into quarantine.
He even got to play some small shows in the Czech Republic at a local pub.
“That’s where I discovered actually that people in the Czech Republic are big fans of country music,” Hazlett said. “I was surprised myself to see a lot of guys out there, older guys, with mullets too, it was kind of funny.”
Hazlett was proud to see many of this year’s 2A state champion Lynden football team sported mullets as well. One of his songs titled "Back In My Hometown" tributes Lynden football and his feelings when revisiting the town.
After the Lions brought the 2A state championship trophy back to Lynden on Dec. 4 for the first time since 2013, Clark Hazlett thought back to his time with the program. He said he has been searching for a gameday feeling that rivals suiting up for the Lions, but there’s nothing like it.
“All the different countries that I’ve played in, and including college, there’s nothing like playing for the Lynden Lions,” Hazlett said. “I’ve been chasing that high and trying to get as close as I can to what that feeling was like and I still haven’t been able to fill that void. Seeing the Lions win the state championship this past year, I couldn’t be more proud to be a Lion and I’m really proud of the guys.”