No one appreciates winning and stability more than Charmaine Clark.
Clark, a 5-foot-11-inch senior from Hinesville, Ga., has never won more than two Atlantic Coast Conference games in any one of her previous three seasons. This year UM already has two wins in its first four conference games.
“Since being here I have come a long way,” said Clark, the longest tenured Hurricane basketball player. “Being ranked [two weeks ago] was just the start of things to come. It feels really great but humbling at the same time. I’m really not looking too much at the past, just really proud of the future.”
Clark, one of just two upperclassmen on the orange and green, is the quiet leader who leads by example. Despite the fact that she does not have gaudy numbers and is often overshadowed by sophomore stars Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams, she is one of three co-captains.
“I am so happy for her,” said fifth year head coach Katie Meier. “You can’t build a program without consistent players. She has a consistent personality too. Charmaine always believed in the coaches and in this program.”
Over the years, there have been a lot of players who have chosen to transfer from the UM women’s basketball program to other athletics. Due to this, there are fresh faces all over the BankUnited Center; eight of the 10 players are either freshmen or sophomores.
“[Charmaine is a leader],” Meier said. “She is always texting and calling, reminding teammates of what’s going on. She takes initiative and really cares.”
Growing up, Clark lived a nomadic lifestyle. Her mother was in the military and she had to move every two and a half years. Clark was born in Georgia then moved to Korea, Tallahassee, Maryland, Missouri, Virginia and then back to Georgia where she graduated high school as an honor student.
“Being a Hurricane, this is the longest time I have ever spent in one place,” Clark said.
With Clark, there was never a doubt that this program would reverse its fortunes.
“I chose Miami because of the family atmosphere,” Clark, a finance major, said. “I believed in Coach Meier and her vision from the day I met her in a high school tournament. I always had faith in her.”
Clark’s basketball skills parallel her traveling journeys; she is always evolving and changing her style.
“When I came here [in 2006] I was a post player,” Clark said. “I started in the ACC Tournament as a freshman as a [center]. Now I’m starting at the [small forward]. I’ve played every position so my game is always changing.”
Meier loves Clark’s selfless attitude.
“Charmaine could care less about personal statistics,” Meier said. “She wants Miami to be in the top 25 and make the NCAA Tournament. She has adapted to every situation she has been put in. I used to call her Charmin (for being soft like the toilet paper), but that was when she was young. She has earned the right not to be called that. She has gotten stronger and more physical this year.”
Clark was not only an integral part of Miami’s upset win over No. 11 Florida State when she hit a pair of clutch threes and totaled 12 points earlier this month, but she was also instrumental in the Canes’ shocking win over Maryland in College Park last Thursday.
Clark was one of four Hurricanes who scored in double figures in the 80-77 instant classic win that snapped the Lady Terrapins 48 game home winning streak that dated back to Feb. 2007. Clark finished with 14 points was 6-for-10 from the floor and scored key baskets when called upon.
“Just watch, this team could be real special,” Clark said with a smile.
Justin Antweil may be contacted at email@example.com.