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10 SECONDS With Nathan Clarke

By Justin Siewierski; Editor-in-Chief
On February 22, 2016

10 SECONDS With Nathan Clarke

Justin Siewierski
Editor-in-Chief
js2010@plymouth.edu

CLOCK PHOTO/ALEX CROSSLEY

Who’s the best player on the team? Honestly, if you looked at the roster of any given basketball team, maybe checked their statistics, watched part of a game, do you think you could pick out the best player on that team?

Although answers may vary, most of them would be the same. The tall guy (or girl), scoring all the points, is by far the best player on the team. Maybe the player that pulls down the most rebounds would be your second choice, because he probably scores a lot, too.

My answer, however, might be different.

Listed at 5’11,” Nathan Clarke isn’t ever mentioned in the scorer’s column. The Reading, Massachusetts native doesn’t pull down more than six boards a game, either. What he does do, however, is what everyone else can’t: he makes his teammates shine.

In both of Plymouth’s last wins, Clarke has had the game-high for assists, and pitched in four steals in their win against UMass Boston. To add to that, Clarke plays 75% of every game, on average. “He is a tremendous leader, well-respected by his teammates through not only his work ethic and intensity on the court but also by his attention to detail in terms of preparing for an opponent,” said head coach Andrew Novick. “Nate has been a huge part of our success this year. Our team really feeds off of his energy and effort in both practice and during games.”

So, I stand with my answer. The reason the men’s basketball team is as good as it is this year starts and finishes with turnovers, both taken, and given up. Without a solid defender, and someone who can handle the ball under pressure, there would be no such thing as a good team. That’s where Clarke comes into play. I had the opportunity to sit down with him and talk about his time here at Plymouth State for this week’s installment of :10 Seconds.

When did you first start playing basketball?

I started playing organized basketball around the 4th or 5th grade. Since my older sister Jen played collegiately for the University of New Haven, and for numerous AAU teams as well as in high school, I have been around the game of basketball my entire life.

Who is your biggest role model?

It’s hard to narrow this one down to just one, but since a role model is considered an influence on my life I’d have to say my entire family. I’m the youngest of three, and my older brother and sister have taught me countless lessons in life thus far that I will have with me for the rest of my life. My brother has sort of always had me under his wing, and for his guidance and support I can’t thank him enough. My sister has done the same, and she is actually the reason I picked up a basketball in the first place. I always wanted to be like her on the floor and felt like she was always the hardest worker in the gym, so I credit my passion and heart for the game to watching her play my whole life. My parents are also very important to me, and I feel as though I am who I am today because of everything they have taught me and continue to teach me to this day. I’m very fortunate to have them with me in everything that I do whether it is physically or in spirit, and I don’t know where I would be without them all.

What's your pre-game routine?

It all starts with putting on the white and green. After our pregame meeting I put on my jersey and get taped up. I like to listen to some good music and watch the girls play, and at halftime I try to get in a ball-handling warm-up with some light shooting to get my hands familiar to the ball. After that, I do some personal stretching and then stretch out with the boys. By the time we gather with coach to head upstairs I’m ready to go. Having a good playlist for this time is key!

How much does the game this Saturday against Western Connecticut State mean to you and the team?

At this point in the season it means everything. We are fighting to have a home playoff game for the first time in awhile here at PSU, and I know myself as well as other guys on the team have yet to beat Western Connecticut home or away. They are one of the top tier teams in our conference every year, so beating them would bring us one step closer to our collective goal as a team to be successful in conference this year.

What are your playoff hopes this year?

To secure a home playoff game by the end of the regular season and to bring home an LEC championship for the first time in school history. We have a great group of guys this year, especially within our senior class, and it would be amazing to make history with them for their last year in the program. This has to be the goal every year, but it all is a process that must be handled one game at a time.

What's been your favorite moment here at PSU?

I’d have to say my favorite moment so far here at PSU was beating Keene twice and making the ECAC’s my freshman year. It was an exciting way to start off my career as a freshman as we took a step in the right direction for putting our program back on the winning track, and no victory is sweeter than one against an in-state and conference rival. It definitely got me excited for the years ahead.

How much of an impact has college sports made on your life?

College sports have made a tremendous impact on my life. First and foremost it has given me a family away from home, and I know I could turn to any guy on this team for support and I could give the same in return, whether it be a coach or a player. It has made adjusting to the college life much easier than I had expected and to know that most of these guys will probably be lifelong friends is incredible to think about.

Second, it has made me a better young man and student. Working cooperatively with a team makes you very aware of the feelings, motives, and emotions of the people around you and I think that definitely carries over to the real world when it comes to problem solving situations. It has made me a better student because the level of dedication that playing a college sport requires is two-fold. While you must be committed to your craft, you also must be committed to the classroom. If you’re not getting it done in the classroom then you won’t be able to get it done out on the hardwood. I think I have also been lucky to have a coaching staff that greatly reiterates the importance of being a student first and an athlete second.

Why did you pick Plymouth State?

My tour around campus had blown me away. I love the small-town community and the sense of togetherness that both the town and the school provide to the student population. I was also very impressed with the genuine interactions I had when meeting members of the staff in both the athletic department and the educational departments. Members of this community really buy in to one common goal, and I think that is to make Plymouth State the greatest place it can be. Everyone is so friendly and willing to offer a helping hand.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully employed as a full-time physical therapist, but if not I will most likely be working in a strength and conditioning facility of some sort. I love being in the gym for my own sport, and it has always been a dream of mine to help athletes of all ages pursue their biggest dreams in their respective sport. I also feel like I will most certainly be involved in some form of coaching for basketball, whether it is on the AAU circuit or at a local school or community
program. I want to give back to the sport I have loved my whole life.

If you had to give this season a letter grade, what would it be?

This is the one question I don’t think I have an answer for. I’m definitely happy about it thus far, but with the big aspirations we have long-term as a team I don’t think I would be able to give a grade yet. We will see come the end of the year!

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