Clark has a right to feel the way he does. His Lady Eagles just recently won the Class 4A State Championship in a game that will not be forgotten.
Asked if he is still on a high after the win Clark replied, “Absolutely! The days are better, everything slides off.”
Down two games in the championship game, the Lady Eagles came back to beat Guntersville, a team who had beaten them twice before, in three straight games to win the state championship.
It’s not the first state championship for Clark, who led his teams to back-to-back state championships in 2008-2009.
Going to the Elite Eight has been almost a given for Clark, who has gone 16 of the 20 years he has been at JHS.
Clark credits the success of the program with the girls who have gone on before. “I think the level of expectation the seniors set each year; and we’ve been very fortunate to have the expectation of what we do.
“I think that the battle for any program is where are your expectations and what do you think is reality.
“I think here we are very fortunate that when they come to this program, even when they are very little and in the seventh and eighth grade, that’s what they see. They see what is expected and it’s easier to get them there.”
Clark said that he always has girls that fall in love with the game and that want to meet the expectations that girls that have gone on before have set.
Coach Clark runs a program that follows his expectations from the junior high level on up.
“Coach (Amber) Russell, (junior varsity coach), played for me so she has been around for a lot of years. She knows exactly what my expectations are and hers are the same because she played in the program.
Coach (Derrick) Wilson is new to us but he does the extra; he comes to my games, he comes to the junior varsity games and he really wants to understand how we do it; what the process is.
“If you don’t have a good foundation beneath you you’re not going to be successful.”
Clark only has seventh and eighth grade girls on the junior high team, coached by Wilson. “I want them to be involved in the basics,” said Clark. “We try to do everything from the beginning the way it’s suppose to be done and that costs you games sometimes. However, they are more comfortable by the time they get to me. Then we’re just working on speeding the game up and fine tuning what they do.”
Even though tryouts for volleyball aren’t until the spring, the girls are already in the weight room with conditioning. Clark gives the girls the week off after the state finals but after that it’s right back to work.
“I think with the athletes now their conditioning goes year round. They play other sports and it all feeds in. We try to get all of them to work, jump a little better and a little higher and be a little quicker. That’s why we start now and we do this through the whole school year,” said Clark.
While Clark might look at the players who have gone on, or the coaches he has working with him, or the hard work of his athletes as the reasons for the success of the program, there is one constant, Coach Clark. It is he who has taken this program to where it is today, one of the most respected volleyball programs in the state of Alabama.
For now, Clark will enjoy the success of this past season. He even doesn’t mind having to have cleaned his yard when his team brought an early winter to his home as his trees were draped in white tissues of toilet paper, a tradition that happens every time Clark wins a state championship.
Clark said that that the feeling he has now is something that will last for a long time. “It will last until the next season kicks in,” said Clark.
While the process for conditioning for next year has already started, Clark says he won’t stop enjoying the championship for a long time. “I’ll probably be in a good mood for a while,” smiled Clark.