Stephanie Goodman was in her early teenagers when she declared, “I’m going to marry Mark Clifford sometime.”
Her pal and teammate Whitney Braswell remembers it properly.
“We had been in center faculty and Mark was this cool, older, school man, and he or she was completely in love with him,” Ms. Braswell mentioned.
Spoiler alert: Ms. Goodman knew of what she spoke. Her adolescent crush would really stick, although it could take greater than 20 years.
Ms. Goodman, now 35, was 12 when she noticed Mr. Clifford carry out for the primary time. They each had been aggressive cloggers, a method of people dancing. In america, clogging originated in Appalachia. And whereas it might probably appear like faucet dancing to the untrained eye, there are variations, although now there may be rather more crossover between the 2 types. Clog dancing takes influences from Wales, Irish line, African folks and sq. dance. Regardless of its identify, it’s not carried out in clogs in america. Whereas in its early years it was carried out to fiddle and banjo, now routines are frequently choreographed to pop and hip-hop.
Mr. Clifford, now 44, is well-known all through the clogging world and past. He based an all-male clogging troupe known as All That! The troupe competed in two seasons on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” coming in second place throughout Season 1, and has carried out on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and internationally. 4 members of All That!, together with Mr. Clifford, carry out six nights every week in a spread present on the Carolina Opry: Calvin Gilmore Theater in Myrtle Seaside, S.C., the place Mr. Clifford and Ms. Goodman now stay. (The present took a monthslong hiatus throughout the pandemic shutdown however then returned and is presently on winter break.) The troupe additionally does company capabilities and cruise ship gigs, too.
Mr. Clifford is the youngest of three kids of the late Vincent Clifford and Marie Clifford who lived in Charleston, S.C. the place his father was based mostly; Vincent Clifford spent 26 years within the Navy, after which labored in actual property.
Marie Clifford had been a faucet dancer, so when her son confirmed an curiosity in clogging, she inspired him.
“I used to be into drums and preferred the sound your ft made with it,” mentioned Mr. Clifford, who was first impressed by seeing older boys doing it.
He was solely 5 when he started clogging, and at age 6, he started karate classes. A fast examine in each, he realized how martial arts knowledgeable the fluidity of his actions in dance and vice versa. By the point he was 8, he was on his strategy to being a toddler star within the aggressive clogging world. Not so academically-minded, Mr. Clifford put all of his focus in each clogging and karate. (He’s additionally a third-degree brown belt, simply wanting a black belt.) His nonschool hours had been taken up by competitions and the journey they require.
“It simply got here actually naturally to me,” Mr. Clifford mentioned. “Once I dance, I really feel like a spinning high, flowing throughout the ground.”
Mr. Clifford didn’t see school in his future. However then he mentioned Mars Hill School close to Asheville, N.C., supplied him a clogging scholarship to steer their team, the Bailey Mountain Cloggers. He graduated with a level in company communications after which turned professional, instructing and making tutorial movies, and founding the troupe.
Ms. Goodman started clogging at age 10. She and her brother are the youngsters of Barry Goodman, who served within the Military’s 82nd Airborne Division and labored in furnishings upholstery, and Donna Goodman, who grew up on a small farm in Granite Falls, N.C. The household had been regulars at Sims Nation Bar-B-Que, a restaurant and stay music venue with a big dance flooring in Granite Falls.
Quickly they joined a staff: the Sims Nation Cloggers. “My mother and I danced on plenty of phases collectively,” mentioned Ms. Goodman, who went on to compete in clogging within the Junior Olympics, in 2002 and 2003.
“I didn’t do every other extracurricular actions in class,” she mentioned. “Like every sport, if it’s your ardour, you’re consistently going to rehearsals, after which practising by yourself time, too.”
Ms. Goodman additionally turned a clogging teacher.
In these early days, at competitions, Ms. Goodman would file the lads’s solo division on the household camcorder, Mr. Clifford specifically.
When Ms. Goodman was 15, she shyly requested Mr. Clifford for his autograph; she has a photograph of them collectively from that alternate.
In 2003, Mr. Clifford taught a grasp class for Ms. Goodman’s staff. She was now 19, he 28, and whereas he remembered her as one of many younger cloggers with the digicam, he couldn’t assist however discover her magnificence. He requested her out.
Though she had waited years for this second, he was her celeb crush, not somebody you exit with in actual life. She turned him down.
“I chickened out,” she mentioned. “I used to be actually intimidated.”
Whereas she immediately regretted it, in hindsight, Ms. Goodman now says, “We each had plenty of rising as much as do. Our stars hadn’t aligned simply but.”
Within the coming years, they every met somebody, acquired married, after which divorced.
In 2011, they friended one another on Fb. It was a social media friendship with little interplay. She at all times wished him properly earlier than he was happening tv, for instance, however nothing greater than that.
Lastly, in 2012, regardless of nonetheless harboring the reminiscence of being rejected by her years earlier, Mr. Clifford as soon as once more requested her out. This time, Ms. Goodman, now retired from clogging and residing in her hometown, didn’t balk.
On their first date, they’d dinner, and strolled round Myrtle Seaside’s Grande Dunes Marina. “The second we acquired collectively, it was like we had been outdated associates, or had been collectively in one other lifetime,” Ms. Goodman mentioned. “It was like ‘oh, there you’re.’”
After a number of dates, Ms. Goodman moved to Myrtle Seaside.
“I wasn’t actually stunned, I believed it was candy,” mentioned Ms. Braswell, the previous teammate of Ms. Goodman’s. “He makes her extremely comfortable and he’s actually inspired her to pursue her personal goals, too.”
They quickly moved in collectively, first into an residence, after which, later, purchased a house. They acquired a canine and three cats.
However Mr. Clifford’s divorce had left him cautious of marriage.
“Let’s be impartial collectively,” was how he phrased it.
“We had an excellent life and I felt fulfilled,” Ms. Goodman mentioned, “so I didn’t wish to stress him.”
However because the years glided by, Mr. Clifford discovered himself altering his tune.
“She’s my first thought, and my final thought, and actually, my solely thought, all all through the day,” he mentioned. “I had discovered the one that makes me comfortable on a regular basis.”
In August 2020, he steered they exit to dinner for the primary time because the shutdown. They ate on the similar restaurant as they did on their first date, and as soon as once more, strolled alongside the marina. This time, he proposed with a custom-made ring.
As they checked out dates and venues for a small wedding ceremony, nothing about planning it was simple.
“Issues simply normally align with us,” mentioned Mr. Clifford. “And the marriage wasn’t taking place like that.”
They’d been on a cruise in January, 2020, and had fallen in love with Puerto Rico. With the blessing of their households, they determined to elope. They settled on the date Jan. 21, 2021, and when Mr. Clifford scrolled by means of previous pictures on his telephone, he noticed they’d been in San Juan on that actual date the yr earlier than.
So on that date, they had been married by Tim Blackford of Peace Love Weddings and a Common Life Life minister, whereas standing exterior the partitions of the Castillo San Felipe del Morro citadel in San Juan.
“He’ll go to each excessive to make me comfortable and do something for me,” mentioned Ms. Goodman, who’s taking Mr. Clifford’s identify. She just lately accomplished a certificates in cybersecurity and is in a yoga-teacher coaching program.
“He’s a grasp of grand gestures,” she mentioned. “However on the finish of the day when it’s simply us, even when he’s seen me at my absolute worst, he loves me for me.”
On This Day
When Jan. 21, 2021
The place On the Castillo San Felipe del Morro citadel in San Juan.
The Wedding ceremony The couple had a ceremony with Bible verses woven in as family and friends watched on Fb. The one stay visitor was an iguana that wandered by. After they had been pronounced married, onlookers let loose a cheer.