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Passing of Don Clark

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Passing of Don Clark

Post  Tuesday and Friday on Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:38 pm

Don Clark passed away last Saturday. He was head coach for West boy's basketball team from 1963 to 1973. He was a very respected coach and teacher at West from 1961 to 1999. He is being remembered for a lot of things today if you read the article in the UL:

http://unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Longtime+coach%2c+educator+Clark+dies&articleId=295a611c-5b62-4095-aad4-1de00f05438f

What I remember is the 1973 West team that won the Class L Championship. From 1970 to 1976 the Queen City was a special and exciting place for HS basketball. Manchester teams won 6 of the 7 Class L championships during this time span. Memorial won it back to back in 1970 and 1971. West won it in 1973. Central won it in 1974. Trinity won back to back titles in 1975 and 1976.

HS basketball was so exciting back then. You had colorful coaches like Poirier, Beleski and Clark. The city schools were so competitive with each other. This was in the day of no AAU and no transfers. When a city school won the Class L Title, except for Trinity, they won it for their section of the city. Memorial won their back to backs with all the southside kids. Central won their title with all the kids from the center and north Manchester. West might have had a Bedford kid or two, but when they won their title in 1973 it was for the West side of Manchester and all the families that lived there. There was a tremendous amount of pride in the different sections of the city when these 4 Queen City teams took turns winning 6 of the 7 Class L championships from 1970 to 1976. I don't think it will be a time span that will ever be repeated for the rest of D1/Class L history. Strangely, the only team to break that string of Queen City Class L championships was Milford who won the Class L title in 1972.

What's amazing is after Don Clark coached West to the title in 1973 he retired from coaching to become the Dept. chairman for social studies at West. The Blue Knights also won Class L titles in 1930 and 1993, but it's the 1973 championship long time West fans talk the most about and have reverance for. Don Clark was the driving force for that West team. If you read the article and comments that follow you'll see what a respected coach, teacher and man he was.

I always say players play themselves into forever when they win a championship. Coaches coach themselves into forever also. One of the best parts of winning a championship is when players run into coaches and they reminisce about the championship runs and title games. It's such a good chicken soup for the basketball soul.

This chicken soup for the basketball soul was clearly evident when 3/4 of that 1973 West championship team came to visit Don Clark in his house last November. The players that couldn't make it to Clark's house talked to him on the phone that day. They all celebrated the West championship. They celebrated Don Clark the coach and the man. Scrapbooks and memorabilia were brought out. Clark could not see due to illness, but the smile he had lasted the whole time his players were there. He sent all the players away with the memorabilia because he said he wouldn't be seeing the material any time soon.

I talked to one of the players who was there that day and he said it was such an uplifting experience for all involved. For many it would be the last time they would see Coach Clark.

Coaching a team into forever. What a powerful and priviliged thing to happen in basketball.

A great coach. A great teacher. A great man.


RIP Don Clark.

Tuesday and Friday
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