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Coach Clark

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader

2012-06-05


My goal each week is to relay some information that might help you or your friends learn something about the law that you or they might not already know. This week Iím writing about a person and a different type of court. My objective remains the same, however. I hope you learn something new.

A couple of years ago, I went to the retirement celebration for Coach Jim Clark. Coach Clark stepped down as the head coach of the Homestead High School boysí tennis team after the 2009 season. He coached the girls at Homestead for one year and the boys for his last 30. I was fortunate to have played for him while I was in high school. Coach Clark appeared thrilled to see so many current and former players, along with a host of friends and his wonderful family in attendance. His passion for the sport was undeniable. He looked great. He was healthy and happy. What more could anyone want?

During his coaching career, he guided his teams to 609 wins, with 31 consecutive Sectional Championships, 28 Regional Championships and 18 Semi-State Championships. His teams competed in 18 State Championships. Each time, his teams came in 2nd, 3rd or 4th. He also coached five Mental Attitude winners, one State Singles Champion and one State Singles Runner-up. He coached a lot of great players and many went on to play tennis in college. Coach Clark was inducted into the Indiana High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Fort Wayne Tennis Hall of Fame. Last year, the tennis courts behind Homestead High School were named the Jimmy Clark Tennis Center.

Coach Clark was even more of a success than his coaching statistics reveal. He didnít just coach at Homestead. For 31 years he was the director for southwest tennis programs where he taught youngsters how to play the game. After his retirement from coaching high school tennis, he was later hired to coach the menís tennis team at St. Francis. Not only was he a great coach and instructor, he was a competitive player as well. Coach Clark played high school tennis at Anderson High School and then went on to play at Ball State.

Beyond his accomplishments as a player, coach and instructor, I think what made Coach Clark so special was not just his passion for the game but his love for his players. Many years ago when I played for him, he drove the team before the season even started to Ohio to watch the pros play in a tournament. On the way back, a police officer gave Coach Clark a ticket for speeding. Maybe he was, but it sure didnít seem like he was driving fast at all. Coach was devastated. He started driving again and I could have sworn he was failing in his attempts to hold back tears. Years later at his retirement party, I asked him about that day. He remembered the ticket and he remembered his devastation. He went on to explain that he let the team down. He thought the speeding ticket would cost him his coaching job.

As a teenager, I could only wonder why he was so upset about a speeding ticket. Many years later when he told me the reason for the tears, I understood just how much he cared for his players.

Months ago, Coach Clark learned he had cancer. He began what appeared to be a rigorous treatment regimen. But he never stopped thinking about tennis. Coach reached out to school administrators, fellow coaches, members of the community and former players all in an effort to join him in his efforts to build a new tennis center for all of the Fort Wayne and southwest community to enjoy. You see, coach spent a good portion of his life on those courts behind Homestead High School. If anyone would know when new courts were needed, it would be him.

Coach spearheaded a committee to get the job done. The Southwest Community Tennis Foundation was created with Coach Clarkís vision as its mission:

ďIt has been my dream to create a community tennis center and offer our tennis patrons of Fort Wayne a place where learning a life sport would be safe, challenging and fun for the entire family. With the donations from the Southwest Community Tennis Foundation and working with Southwest School Corporation among others, this dream is coming together. ď

Coach Clark passed away Tuesday evening. His dreams live on.


If you are interested in learning more about the Southwest Community Tennis Foundation, please visit www.coachjimmyclark.com.

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Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. _This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you.

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