It’s no secret to any friends, family, or strangers that I am an alumnus of St. John’s University. It’s probably why I was selected to participate in the Biggest Fan of the Big East Contest sponsored by Volvo. They say there is more to life than a Volvo which is why we’re seeking “Off the Court Excellence.” Volvo knows there is more to Big East student athletes than just basketball.
Both Volvo and St. John’s alike strive for excellence indicated by their mission statements. St. John’s was inspired by St. Vincent de Paul’s compassion and zeal for service. St. Vincent dedicated his life to helping out the less fortunate extending opportunities to them when no one else would. This is well represented by the diversity at St. John’s as it is ranked the 17th most diverse school in the country by Forbes. What makes this stand out even more is the fact that St. John’s is 1 of 3 private schools which make the top 20 list in the United States.This diversity has produced many prominent alumni in many different facets of life. Former Governors of New York Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo to former Governor of California George Deukmejian. Musical talents Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels to current breakout rap sensation J. Cole. In the sports world ESPN’s Howie Schwab and Brian Kenny (Sports Center) to the late Bob Sheppard “Voice of the New York Yankees.” Of course business men Bruce R. Bent, inventor of first money market fund and Mike Repole the inventor of Vitamin Water.
Volvo also shares the beliefs of values and excellence in building safer cars since 1927. As St. John’s continues to enhance the lives of young people Volvo continues to protect them. Volvo’s Saved My Life Club is a true testament to their statement, “You’re not driving a car. You’re driving a promise,” and Volvo has done just that. They have pledged $10,000 to the Alma Mater of the winner of this contest. Volvo Victory = Vincentian Values!….hows that for alliteration?
So with no further adieu who is #42?
He comes from the small town of Scranton, Pennsylvania. “We don’t get much recognition,” but he had big dreams, “I wanted to come to school here in New York City.” He passed on other opportunities to play basketball elsewhere despite not receiving a scholarship offer from St. John’s. He tried out for the team his freshman year but was cut. He took a job in the basketball office just so he could remain close to the team. He tried out his sophomore year again and successfully became a walk-on player for the Red Storm. Some of you know him as #42 but his name is Kevin Clark, senior, St. John’s Red Storm.
“I just wanted to play at the biggest level possible, biggest city, and St. John’s tradition and history is something anybody would be lucky to play for.”
Despite his name not making headlines on the backpage of New York papers, the Clark’s are pretty well known back home. Kevin has three brothers Patrick, Jordan, and Chael who are all scholars as well as athletes. Patrick and Jordan both played college baseball while Chael played his college basketball at New York University. “As an older brother I looked up to him in everything that he did. He was very accomplished athletically and academically, (pauses, laughs) obviously because he went to NYU,” Kevin spoke of his brother Chael who he would hop on the E Train to visit for advice when he first came to St. John’s, “He’s been a real role model for me.”
So four brothers, all athletes, what are those driveway games like during the holidays?
The teams are usually Patrick and Kevin vs Jordan and Chael. “The Holidays are the best times because we get to be home and the first place we go is to play pick up basketball wherever we can.” Although Kevin couldn’t take credit for being the best player or athlete deferring to his older brothers. I think he may have been just being modest or he didn’t want to come home next holiday after his brothers read this.Speaking of holidays Kevin as well as the entire St. John’s men’s basketball team have spent their past four Thanksgivings with the Bread of Life serving the homeless at a shelter in Brooklyn. “Well outside of the court I realize I’m related to the basketball team and I act accordingly.” said the senior.
On the court his role during the game may be minimal in the final score but what he may fail to realize is that he gives hope to every person in the stands. So many people respect and admire his passion and determination that has earned him the privilege to wear that St. John’s jersey on game day. It’s not easy being a walk-on player. “We do everything that the scholarship players do,” Clark said confidently, We go through all the drills, run 5 on 5 with them, and it just comes down to 5 guys on the court and usually we’re not the ones on it. We try to get them ready for whoever they’re playing and whatever the situation is.”
When #42 checks into the game every father tells his son the story of how he got cut his freshman year, made the team next year without a scholarship, how he’s a dean’s list student, and how with hard work dreams can come true.
For Kevin it’s never about himself. “It’s not so much a personal legacy for me but I want to be able to say that I was a part of something great. An NCAA team, a Big East Championship team,” Clark speaking of legacy at St. Johns, “but personally being around these guys, doing what I’m doing now is enough for me.” This is why #42 Kevin Clark receives the Off the Court Excellence Award.
After graduation Kevin plans to pursue a career in coaching so he can help teach the youth play the game in addition to growing up to be strong young men in their communities. He feels that the lessons and values he’s learned being a part of St. John’s Basketball team will propel him in anything he sets his mind to.
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