As a lifelong basketball player, Lauren Clarke ’14 doesn’t miss an opportunity to step onto the court. Now in her third year with the Bears, Clarke, of Colts Neck, N.J., has started in all but two games in her collegiate career. She won the team’s Coaches Award at the conclusion of last year and has continued her standout play in the early stages of this season.
Clarke has averaged an impressive 15 points per game through the season’s first eight games. She scored 16 points in the second half against New Hampshire Sunday to lead her team from behind to its third victory of the year. For her game-changing performance, Clarke is this week’s Athlete of the Week.
Herald: When did you start playing basketball?
Clarke: As long as I can remember. I was always in gyms with my brother and my dad, and I started playing actually on a team in kindergarten. In second grade, they didn’t have a girls’ team, so me and my friend both played on a boys’ travel team, and I think they were, like, a grade or two older than us. But that was my first team.
Do you have any role models or idols?
I think my dad has helped me the most. My whole family, but my dad pretty much was my coach. I would always play against my brother and with my sister on her team – she was older than me – and my mom had a huge part mentally. She taught me how to be mentally tough. My family has been my supporters.
What are you concentrating in?
BEO (Business, Entrepreneurship and Organizations).
And what’s it like to balance basketball and schoolwork during final exams?
It’s tough, because it’s a very long season. But our team is very supportive. We help each other out and figure out classes and work together. We have some good advisors that we can talk to. One of our coaches went here, too, so she can relate to us. As long as you manage your time – you can’t wait until the last minute to do things.
How was this last game for you, scoring 16 points in the second half?
It was really good, just because it’s our last game until after Christmas, when we come back from break. We came off of, I think, two or three losses before it, and it’s just really important for us to end on a good note, because now we have three weeks of practice before we go home, before the next game. We really needed to get that win, and leave on a positive note.
Did you do anything different at halftime?
We were down by two, but we didn’t score for the first ten minutes, and then we held them off to eight points after that, I think. We knew what we were capable of doing. We had 20 minutes to play and leave it all out there, and that’s it until after Christmas. That was our spark.
Do you personally have any game day superstitions or rituals?
If it’s on a weekend, we’ll have a shootaround – but we always have a pregame meal. And after pregame meal, I always take a nap and then go to the gym. I need my nap.
Is it true that your high school retired your jersey?
Yeah, me and two other girls.
And what’s it like to receive that honor?
It was just really cool for them to recognize all our hard work and to have it be done with two girls that were my best friends was really cool.
What are you hoping for the rest of the season?
Just to keep this positive momentum from this win and just staying positive and using these pre-season games to help us build and learn about ourselves. To get ready and prepare ourselves for the Ivy League, so hopefully we can do really well.