Marriage isn’t easy, and neither is coaching. But for the past few years, husband and wife duo John and Debra Clark seemed to have made it work.
With Debra Clark as the head coach and John Clark as an assistant coach, this couple, married for 18 years, will work to take Florida A&M University’s women’s basketball team to the top.
The Famuan had a chance to sit with the Clarks before the season as they spoke about their life as husband and wife coaches.
Famuan: Where did the two of you meet?
D. Clark: We met at Hampton University. J. Clark: She played basketball and I played football. All of the students who played sports ran in the same circles.
Famuan: When did the two of you begin working together?
D. Clark: In 1994. I coached at Winston-Salem and John came on as part time. We were there for about seven years before I accepted the job here at FAM.
Famuan: Did you receive a lot of negative criticism for hiring your husband?
D. Clark: No, not really. Actually we received more positive feedback than we did negative.J. Clark: There are a lot of coaches out there who are family members – a few of them in the state of Florida as well as around the country. I think that people respected us for it. A lot of people can’t handle what we do.
Famuan: How is the responsibility for the team delegated? Who does what?
D. Clark: I have three full-time assistants. John likes uniform, so he handles all of the recruiting and the traveling stuff.
Famuan: Do you ever take the job home with you?
D. Clark: We do at times. If there’s something bothering either of us, then we’ll talk about it at home. But it doesn’t happen all of the time.
Famuan: What activities do you get involved in besides basketball?
J. Clark: We play golf.D. Clark: I don’t play.J. Clark: I play, she watches.D. Clark: I love to read and he has his computer.
Famuan: Does it get hectic being around each other all of the time?
J. Clark: No. Like she said, she has her books, and I have the computer. Whenever I come home, her nose is almost always stuck in a book, and I head straight to the computer. And we don’t leave for work at the same time, so we do have our space from each other.
Famuan: You have a son that’s 14. Do you want him to travel down the same road as you have with sports?
D. Clark: He doesn’t have to. We don’t try to enforce the rules on him in that way. We let him choose the sports that he chooses as long as he knows that we’re all one team. J. Clark: I played football in college, but he has no passion for it. Right now he’s all about basketball, and that’s not a problem with me.
Famuan: You mentioned teamwork. Who handles most of the responsibility at home?D. Clark: We both do. We all try and tackle the household chores together. It gets done faster that way.
Famuan: Where do you plan on taking the basketball team this year?
D. Clark: Well right now, we’re in the pre-season stage. But the team has excellent team spirit and the girls are bringing forth a strong effort. Of course we want to work toward a league championship.
Famuan: Has working together helped you to learn more about each other?
J. Clark: Yeah. I’m more laid back and she’s more of a rush.
Famuan: Do you have any advice for coaches out there who are family members or couples?
D. Clark: You have to learn how to separate your work life from your home life. When we come home, we’re like a regular married couple. And you have to be able to deal with the ramifications of working together. Like we said earlier, it’s not for everyone.
Famuan: Is she the boss at home?J. Clark: Twenty-four hours. No, make that 25 hours.