Jaime Clark: A Creature Of Habit
May 7, 2002
By Theresa Ripp -
It all starts with socks.
Then it moves to what rubber bands pull back her long blonde hair, what underwear and sports bra she wears, what room key goes in her back pocket, and eventually even until which inning the key stays in her pocket.
Believe it or not - Jaime Clark is superstitious.
But before Clark could conceive of playing softball for the University of Washington, her softball career started with another kind of socks - the Tustin Bobby Sox.
Clark, a junior and starting shortstop for the Huskies' softball team, started playing at the age of 10 in Tustin, Calif.
'We got a flyer in the mail and one of my friends was playing, so I signed up,' says Clark. 'I played first base back then.'
Clark and her teammates practiced on the Foothill High School field, home to one of California's top prep programs.
'I remember telling myself one day that I would play on this field, where everything seemed bigger,' she says.
One of Clark's fondest memories playing softball as a young girl was winning the 12-and-under national championship. Clark and her three best friends - Eryn, Alissa, and Cheri - were the force behind the Tustin All-Stars. Eryn now plays softball for Cal.
'We are all still best friends and that is a memory I will always cherish,' Clark says.
Clark's dream of playing softball at Foothill came true, and the multi-talented athlete added volleyball and basketball to her repetoire as well. Clark earned first-team all-CIF Southern Section Division-I honors as a shortstop her senior year, and was also named the L.A. Times' Player of the Year.
When the choice came to decide where to play during college, Clark wanted to be somewhere different, and had offers from Washington, Arizona, Cal and Long Beach State. Only one offered her the type of change she was looking for.
'I love it here at Washington,' she says. 'From the facilities, to the help we get from tutors, to the equipment, we are taken really good care of here.'
The fans love Clark, too. As a freshman, she earned second-team All-America honors while leading the nation in total bases with 176 and ranking second nationally in home runs (23) and doubles (24). In 2001, Clark again earned All-America and all-conference accolades, finishing with a team-best .412 batting average in Pac-10 play.
In May of 2001, Clark and teammates Tia Bollinger and Kim DePaul helped the U.S. national team to a gold medal at the Pan Am Games Qualifier in Venezuela. Clark's stellar performance merited all-tournament honors.
None of Clark's accomplishments have been missed by her father, Craig, whom Clark calls, 'my super fan.' Craig Clark has followed his daughter's collegiate career to nine different states in the last three years, witnessing all of Washington's 143 wins and 48 losses (an impressive winning percentage of .749) in Clark's career. After Clark hit a home run at Husky Softball Stadium in 2000, an usher fetched the ball and asked Craig to sign it.
'It meant so much to him,' Clark says. 'He was shaking when he was signing it. Recognition like that makes everything worthwhile.'
When she is on the field, Clark takes deep breaths and tries to keep her mind clear.
'I try to anticipate what the other team is going to do and be prepared for it,' she says. 'We need to maintain a good level of focus and have a good attitude. The most important thing is to peak at the right time in the season.'
Clark has focused herself on a major in English, and would like to incorporate two extra days into the week for sleeping in and taking time off from school and softball.
'Softball has always been a double-edged sword,' she says. 'It forces me to get out of bed, but it also forces me to be task-oriented.'
A creature of habit, Clark will continue to get out of bed every morning. On to the softball field she will step, a room key in her back pocket.