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Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Rick Clark was a double-sport standout for Lipscomb University, but in April he will be honored for his entire sports career by the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame. Clark is one of 10 new members to be honored in the 2014 class on April 14.
He is a 1967 graduate of Hazel Green High School where played on coach Jerry Dugan's state championship team of '67. Jerry is the brother of Lipscomb legend Ken Dugan, who also coached Clark at Lipscomb in basketball. Jerry Dugan, also a Lipscomb graduate, called Clark, “The best player I had at Hazel Green. He came to play every night.''
At Hazel Green, Clark was All-State, All-Area and All-Big Six in basketball. He averaged 20 points and 14 rebounds per game as a senior. He was MVP of the county tournament and honorable mention All-America in 1967. In 2010, he was named to “The HuntsvilleTimes” five-man All-Decade for the 60s.
At Lipscomb he was a four-year letterman in basketball serving as co-captain as a junior and senior. He also lettered on the tennis team earning co-MVP honors as a senior. He spent some time this week talking with lipscombsports.com from his home in New Market, Ala.
What years did you play at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I came to Lipscomb on a basketball scholarship. I had three coaches while I was there - Guy Phipps, Ken Dugan and Mike Clark.
"I enjoyed the game of tennis so much that, that is what I did during the offseason.
"My junior year they were lacking some players. I finally felt like I had reached the point where I could compete. They had six slots and didn't have enough players. I was asked to play and had a pretty good time.
"I had sort of a natural talent for it I guess. In rural Alabama the sports are basketball, baseball and football. I don't even think we had a tennis court at school at the time. I started playing when I came to Lipscomb. I picked it up pretty quick.
"Dr. Robert Hooper was the coach of the tennis program at the time. He asked me to play. It was a niche for me.”
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"We had a good freshman team. We were 8-1, I think. That was a good year.
"One of the big memories I have was the night we played Athens College from Alabama. There were several players on the Athens team at that time that I had played against in high school. That sort of revved me up a little bit.
"Athens really had a good team that year. They had beaten us down there and they were supposed to beat us at Lipscomb. This was the year that coach Dugan was coaching.
"I usually played inside. I was about 6-foot-3. I jumped pretty well. I don't know what happened that night. But I got fouled something like 20 times. Normally you didn't get fouled that many times.
"There were some records posted out in the lobby in McQuiddy. I broke the record for free throws made in a game that night hitting 19-of-20. I hit 15 straight, missed one and then hit four more. I only had eight other points.
"I had a pretty good night and we won that game by five points, 71-66."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"Overall my biggest influence was Jerry Dugan, my coach at Hazel Green. He was the initiator of my basketball achievements. We won the state championship my senior year. We were a small school.
"I wasn't that big as far as going to a major school. But I had smaller schools in the area I was looking at. But Jerry Dugan was the one that influenced me to come to Lipscomb as far as my talent.
"At Lipscomb I looked up to Eugene `Fessor' Boyce. Even though he wasn't coaching at the time, I looked to him as an influence in athletics and everything else."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"I enjoyed the campus at Lipscomb. I thought it was a beautiful place. I also enjoyed the area around campus.
"I made great friends there. The professors were nice.
"At that time I had a number of good buddies who played baseball. My last year there they won the NAIA National Championship in 1971. I enjoyed going to those games."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"I was going to coach and teach, but I didn't do that. You could see the Christian commitment to things at Lipscomb. I ended up working with urban development in Nashville for a number of years in the housing department. At that time I worked mostly with people who were in public housing.
"It gives you a sense…an obligation… to try to help people who didn't have things as well as you did."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"Dr. Robert Hooper was one of the people I enjoyed most. `Fessor' Boyce was also a great guy.
"Dr. Hooper made it interesting. He liked sports too. I guess that is why he was the tennis coach at the time. Athletes had a special place for him. I guess that made a connection there for me with him. I spent time at his house several times. I really enjoyed his company.
"You couldn't beat `Fessor'. He was just a kind, understanding person. You really felt good being around him. He was that kind of person."
Where do you live now?
"I live in New Market, Ala."
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I am retired. I graduated from Lipscomb with a major in physical education in 1971. After Lipscomb I went to Middle Tennessee State and got a master's in political science in 1972.
"I started out working for Housing and Urban Development in Nashville for four or five years.
“I got tired of the Nashville traffic every morning. I changed careers and went into sales. I worked for a library company and later in educational and computer software sales for Rand McNally throughout the Southeast.”