Clarkson proves her mettle
Pursuing the right shoe for you
Balls, pucks and press
Clarkson proves her mettle
By Drew Walker
The Mustangs have a wild horse in their midst which is creating havoc throughout university basketball courts in Ontario.
Her name is Holly Clarkson, a fifth-year physical therapy student, and currently the starting power forward for the Western women's basketball team. On the court she wants to out hustle you, out work you, give you a few bumps and bruises, and then flat-out steal from you what ever is up for grabs.
Mustang head coach, Bob Delaney, said his first impressions of Clarkson came during scouting sessions as she played on her high school team. "She was very composed, nothing seemed to rattle her."
Throughout the recruiting process, Delaney said he knew Clarkson would be a valuable addition to the Western squad because of her unique physical skills. "Holly had great hands, and was an exceptional passer from the high post position. It was very obvious that everyone had a lot of confidence in Holly."
Clarkson has continued to earn the respect of her teammates and coaches as she has ascended through the collegiate ranks.
She said she openly admits her favorite aspect of playing university basketball is handling the physical play that is expected at the Canadian Intercollegiate University Athletics level. "Nothing feels better than setting a hard screen and creating an open shot for a teammate," she said.
While she is humble about her game play, Clarkson said she does what she has to do to help her team win games. "I'm out there to grab rebounds and to be a defensive stopper."
Clarkson's hard work and effort on the glass does not go unrecognized. She was the team's leading rebounder last year and is well on her way to repeating this feat in 2001.
Though she has achieved so much success during her time at Western, Clarkson maintains that nothing has been handed to her. She said emerging from her status as a Western rookie to a now-well-seasoned veteran was a tough transition.
" [My] first year was difficult for me. Coming out of high school, I was used to playing every minute of every game. Looking back now, I realize it was a character builder. I definitely learned a lot from the older girls when I was just starting out.
"As a captain you are definitely looked to by teammates to be a leader. Cindy Scott [co-captain] is the vocal leader, and I just try to lead by example."
Delaney said he chose Clarkson to be one of the captains because he feels she is a natural leader. "She doesn't force anything. Holly gives 110 per cent every time out, and the other girls feed off her energy. Holly has been through the wars with me, and I appreciate that."
Delaney said he feels he has built a program that enjoys success because of the girls' individual personalities and the fact that they have great team chemistry, both on and off the court.
"Kids are welcomed by our program. Holly is a captain and we ask for her opinion about the present and future of Western basketball. We want a family atmosphere, and Holly fits right in there."
Delaney said part of Clarkson's success comes through knowing when to be aggressive, and when to be patient. "In this program you're going to have a small window to show your stuff. Players have to wait their turn and take advantage, and Holly has done that."