JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — Marble Falls Middle School teacher and coach Kelly Clark said her induction into the Angelo State University Athletics Hall of Honor is not the result of the countless hours of practice or the numerous jump shots she made in her backyard as a youth.
The credit, she said, goes to her parents, John and Pat Clark.
“He actually put the goal up on a wooden pole,” said Clark, a 1982 graduate of Marble Falls High School who played at ASU from 1982-86. “It was fun. That’s how I relieved all my stress. I was back there for hours, until Mom told me to come in.”
Clark is a member of the seventh class to be inducted into the college’s hall. The ceremony is Jan. 23 at the C.J. Davidson Conference Center at the Houston Harte University Center, 1910 Rosemont Drive in San Angelo.
Clark still holds many ASU records. She is the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,863 points, the leading rebounder with 1,077 and is the only Rambelle to score at least 1,500 points and grab 1,000 rebounds. She is the all-time leader in field goals made (833) and steals (259) and still has the record for the most steals in a season (95). By the time she finished, Clark broke 16 records, although she credits her teammates for her accomplishments. In four years at ASU, she had three different coaches.
Clark played at ASU when Title IX — which prohibits sex discrimination in education — was still in its infancy, before select basketball was in existence and recruiting was handled more between parents and college coaches as opposed to select team coaches and scouts.
A lifelong Texas Tech basketball fan who loves West Texas, Clark wanted to play for Marsha Sharp, who guided the Lady Raiders to the 1994 national championship. The Clarks were unaware of the interest that college coaches had in their daughter until very late in her senior year. By then, most of the programs did not have a scholarship available.
So they took a road trip to San Angelo. When the Rambelles offered a four-year athletic scholarship, the player did not hesitate.
But Pat and John didn’t allow the distance to keep them away from their daughter’s games.
“(My parents) never missed any game of mine,” she said. “When I went to college, the only ones they missed were the ones out of state. They were my biggest fans. They were the reasons for how successful I was.”
When Clark began playing at Marble Falls Junior High, girls basketball was a half-court game that resembled 3-on-3. So when the defense got the ball off a missed shot or a dead ball, it was thrown to the offensive teammates on the other end. She played that format for one year before it was changed to the modern 5-on-5 system that fans watch today.
“That drove me crazy. I just stood there,” the former player said of the half-court game. “I was glad they changed it. That’s when I fell in love with basketball. I loved to play defense and offense.”
The change allowed Clark to blossom on the court.
She still ranks in the top 10 of many offensive categories at Marble Falls High School. She scored 37 points in a single game, 648 in her final season and 1,906 in four seasons as a Lady Mustang before the 3-point line was implemented. She grabbed 23 rebounds in a game and a total of 301 in her last season.
And she accomplished those feats while playing with a boys regulation basketball that has a circumference of about 30 inches until her third year at ASU. That’s when the NCAA introduced the 28½-inch basketball that is used in women’s basketball today.
Clark said she knew even in that backyard from her childhood that she would become a coach. So when her father died, she moved back to be close to her mother. She teaches and coaches at Marble Falls Middle School after spending a season as the head volleyball coach at Marble Falls High School in the early 2000s.
“Playing is a lot less stressful,” she said with a laugh. “I love working with these kids. I couldn’t ask for a better job.”
The coach even told her players about the honor. She said they began cheering and asked if they could attend the ceremony.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” she said. “They were so happy and screaming.”
As she reflected on her playing and coaching careers that span almost four decades, Clark said she has lived a very blessed life.
“I wouldn’t have changed a thing,” she said. “I got a lot of great memories, got my college education paid for. I never fathomed (being in a hall of honor), not even when I was in my backyard. What an honor.”