By Thomas Sellers Jr.
What did Erin Clark’s signing to Mid-South Community College April 8 mean?
There were various answers to that question coming from those gathered in the Millington Central High School Cafeteria for the ceremony. The Millington senior and former Lady Trojan combo guard will further her education and play for Greyhounds Head Coach Kim Turner this fall.
To Turner, Clark’s signing added to her recruiting class a guard with a championship pedigree coming from a solid family led by Clarks’ parents Angela and Wilbert.
“We’re very excited to have her,” Turner said. “She’s a very versatile player. She’s a very hard-nose guard. And she’ll be a great asset to our program. We’re looking forward to having her and build.”
While Clark was building her skills under head coaches Stan Gatlin and Bruce Marshall the past four years, Turner helped start the MCC program.
“It definitely helps because I think she’ll be a great leader and a great compliment to some of the student/athletes we already have,” Turner said of the addition of Clark. “We’re definitely academically focused at Mid-South Community College. We have a wide-range of academic scholarships for our student/athletes.
“So she’ll fit right in and as soon as she gets in she’ll be able to apply for some of those scholarships,” she added. “Clark’s signing shows to the community and other players who are looking to go off to school and play basketball that Mid-South Community College is there. We’ll help them develop to reach the next level.”
For the past two years Marshall had the privilege of helping Clark reach the college level. The leader of the Lady Trojans said Clark’s signing was validation for her dedication to her teammates, coaches and the Lady Trojan program.
“She was extremely valuable to the program,” he said. “She could play the shooting guard for us. Nights when we needed her or there was foul trouble, she could take the point over and be a distributor there. You can’t put into words how valuable she was. She could go in at any spot on the floor and be comfortable.”
Marshall said a December game at Houston High School displayed Clark’s value and leadership. With her team trailing by double-figures and starters like Seymon Taylor, Kendra Richardson, Treasure Redding and Tiara Caldwell not on the floor, Clark stepped up her game to help Millington pull within one point at halftime.
“She just always brought it every night,” Marshall said. “When she was on the floor, she would have floor burns every night. She wasn’t scared to get down there and get on the floor. Hopefully the younger kids are going to learn from that and floor that example.
“The Houston game we were short handed that night with two or three kids out of town,” he continued. “And then we had to play a lot of young ones because of foul trouble. They just kind of fell in there with her. What she was able to teach them about giving maximum effort in the game will carry over with those kids. Hopefully it will transfer to younger kids and carry on with them.”
Clark was an example for her younger teammates. Coming from a family of four, Clark is used to leading by example with siblings Traci, Sky and Travis watching her every move.
Angela and Wilbert said Erin has been the ideal oldest child. And by pushing herself to be a good role model for her three siblings, Clark made family history with her signing.
“This is a landmark day,” Angela said. “She’s the first one in college out of my family and his family. This means a lot to our family.
“She does want to set the bar for the kids,” she added. “She wants to be that person they look up to and then surpass. She wants to let them know, no matter what give it your all.”
Wilbert said Erin always had a drive to succeed and win.
“I can’t explain it,” he said. “She gave it her all. That’s all I can ask for. She put out her all. But she felt like she cold have done a little bit better. She always feels like that.
“She’s the type of person through all her coming up in the basketball world she’s learned how to handle adversity,” he added. “She went through so much heartache and pain, she thought it was just going to be smooth sailing. I told her to just stick with it and it’s something you’re going to learn preparing you for when you go out there in life. Adversity is the main thing now, she knows not to get upset. Just adapt and overcome.”
Angela said her daughter is a goal-setter and will continue to set new bars in Arkansas.
“They are getting a team player and someone who is going to adapt to the atmosphere and the people she’s with,” she said. “She’s going to give it her all. She’s always had that, I want to be No. 1, I want to win and I want to give my all.”
The guest of honor herself defined her signing day in a more simple fashion.
“This day means two years of paid knowledge,” Erin said with a smile. “You can go in there and you don’t have any stress now on the financial situation. Just go in there, have fun playing ball and get your education.”
Clark said her life’s experiences from being the oldest, playing at Woodstock Middle and MCHS, winning the 2013 District 14-3A title all boost her drive to win.
But the foundation of all that have been her parents. Clark said whatever her signing day means, it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Angela and Wilbert.
“It means I was fortunate enough to go to college,” she said. “Some of my cousins, aunts had to start working because they had to help.
“My parents put me in this situation,” Erin concluded. “My parents have been a huge support for me. Without them I probably wouldn’t have made it here. I wouldn’t have that motivation and dedication I have today.”