With no time to rest on her laurels, former Bradwell Institute Lady Tiger basketball player Charmaine Clark will pack up her business management degree and basketball career at the University of Miami to hit the Women’s European Basketball League playing in Iceland.
The Hinesville native attended BI her freshman year in the 2002-03 school year and made and immediate impact on the Lady Tiger basketball squad.
"Charmaine came in as a freshman with so many skills that she had already developed," Lady Tiger coach Faye Baker said. "She was a freshman on the team when we went to the final four, which is the best we’ve done since I’ve been the coach. She is very special to me."
Being from a military family, Clark moved to Virginia her sophomore and junior year, but returned to Hinesville where she rejoined the Lady Tigers as a senior.
"In her senior year she was our primary ball handler," Baker said. "She was the best ball handler on our team at that time. So in many instances, especially when a team was pressing us, she would have to be the one who would have to bring the ball out."
Clark said basketball was always her favorite sport. She said her mother placed her in different athletic programs but basketball was her priority.
"I started to play on the boys’ team when I was younger and right then I realized I could actually do something with this sport," she said.
Her career in college happened by chance.
"In October of my senior year my AAU coach, Chris Stacy, took me to a tournament to Atlanta," Clark said. "It was me and two of my other teammates at Bradwell. I was debating whether I wanted to go, but decided to do it and that is when coach Katie Meier saw me.
Meier, the UM women’s basketball coach was impressed by Clark’s performance. Clark said other schools like Duke and Kentucky had their rosters set and turned their back on her senior year.
"But coach Meier said she saw something in me that would make a big impact at Miami," Clark said. "The following week coach Meier came to BI and watched me and talked to coach Baker and we sat down and talked and the following week I went down and had my official visit.
She said the whole process took less than a month. She started as a freshman and played all four years while earning her degree in business management.
"Everybody has talent and the difference is confidence," she said about playing at the collegiate level. "Your confidence level will dictate your skill level on the court because everybody is on the same basketball level. Your confidence is what sets you up above every other player."
Clark is now taking her confidence and skills overseas for a professional career in Iceland.
"We are just processing the paperwork," she said with a smile. "My agent thinks it’s a good fit. She has seen me play throughout the season and she said this would be a good fit for me. It’s a good place for me to shine and a good opportunity for other people to see me and see if another team wants to pick me up."
Clark said Iceland is looking to place her as a guard in the 1, 2 or 3 spot.
"I always knew there was unlimited potential for Charmiane," Baker said. "She went off to Miami, had a great career, graduated and I’m really proud of that fact. And now she is going on to bigger and better things. I’m very proud of her."
Women’s European Basketball League has a reputation for being highly competitive compared to the WNBA. Clark said she prefers the European league and is ready for the challenge.
"The best thing to prepare for basketball is to play basketball," she said when asked how she would prepare for the next level of competition.
"The European reputation, the competitiveness and even the financial gain is better for our young ladies," coach Baker said about the league. "A lot of the people that play in the WNBA actually play in the European league during their off season. It’s a great opportunity and not one that everyone gets. You are talking about playing on a professional level and there are only a small percentage of players that actually get an opportunity to compete on that level. It’s a great opportunity for her to get that chance to continue doing something she loves to do."