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Related: Sankofa, HBCU Events Highlight US Lacrosse Diversity Efforts
Tim Clark says his life’s path has led him exactly to where he is meant to be. At each step of the journey, he has encountered a mentor who steered him in the right direction. That understanding and appreciation fuels his commitment today to enhancing the experiences of youth.
Clark, 50, a former member of the US Lacrosse Board of Directors, has been chair of the organization’s diversity and inclusion task force since it formed in 2012. Clark and the other committee members strive to help the national governing body expand participation in underrepresented communities.
“It’s all about providing opportunities,” Clark says.
Born in Georgia as the youngest of four kids, Clark’s mother passed away when he was 6. He was sent to Syracuse, N.Y., to be raised by his oldest sister, Lois, a single mother of two. She exposed him to opportunities in music, sports and other activities.
“She kept me on the right path,” Clark said. “I don’t know where I would be without her.”
Clark’s high school football coach, Tom Acee, who also coached lacrosse, introduced him to lacrosse as a junior at Henninger (N.Y.) High. Clark’s first lacrosse season ended with the school’s first and only state title.
His career continued as a two-sport athlete at Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y., where he was part of the Statesmen’s run of 12 consecutive NCAA Division III championships.
Also during this time, he caught the coaching bud. He helped coach Hobart’s JV team one spring when he was sidelined due to a knee injury.
“My plan was to be a teacher and a coach,” said Clark, who graduated in 1987 with a degree in sociology and education.
Clark cited Dave Urick, Jon Hind, Sid Jamieson and Phil Buttafuoco as mentors who helped shape his life during and after college, offering him opportunities to coach collegiately at Wooster and Bucknell, as well as the chance to eventually join the NCAA’s national staff in Indianapolis.
Clark managed the NCAA’s Youth Education through Sports (YES) clinics for four years while also administering its involved with the federally funded National Youth Sports Program. Both initiatives provided access to the college environment through sports.
“These experiences really opened my eyes and fueled my passion for exposing kids to opportunities,” said Clark, whose 13-year-old son, Myles, plays lacrosse and whose wife, Sharon, coaches volleyball.
For the past three years, Clark has served as the Indiana Youth Institute’s Program Manager for Mentoring Partnerships. He oversees an initiative to pair adult mentors with kids primarily from low-income families, to provide them with with access to college and a path to success.
“We’re striving each day to make a positive difference,” said Clark, who works directly with mentoring programs throughout the state to improve service and accountability. “We track these kids, support them and make sure that they don’t fall through the cracks.”
Lacrosse continues to factor prominently in Clark’s life. He’s the boys’ coach at Park Tudor (In.) High and was co-chair of Indiana’s host committee for the 2013 NCAA Division I men’s quarterfinals in Indianapolis. Clark co-founded the Indiana Youth Lacrosse Association (IYLA), formerly presided over US Lacrosse’s Indiana Chapter and continues to deliver the game to young minority players by running clinics in select areas.
US Lacrosse recently hired Eboni Preston as its first full-time associate director of diversity and inclusion, a sign the sport is moving in the right direction, Clark said.
“It’s time to walk the walk,” he said. “Hiring Eboni shows folks that US Lacrosse is serious about diversity issues.”
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Awards to local organizations will help support lacrosse outreach opportunities for underrepresented communities.