Jan. 18, 2018
By Monica Huynh, UTA Senior Public Relations Student
Senior guard Mairega Clarke, has a track record that speaks for itself.
Clarke was not an athletic prodigy and did not start playing basketball at a young age. In fact, he knew very little about the sport growing up in his home of Trinidad, a southern island in the Caribbean. Back home, soccer was a popular sport that he played regularly with the kids in his neighborhood.
It wasn't until Clarke moved to Queens, N.Y. learned about basketball, when he admired the players on the court of a nearby park. He watched in awe as they dribbled the ball down the court. He knew that he wanted to get his hands on that ball.
Moving to New York was not part of his family's plan. Clarke and his sister lived in Trinidad with his grandmother, while his parents moved to New York in hopes of a promising future. During the summer, Clarke and his sister would travel from Trinidad to New York to visit their parents.
"The day we were supposed to leave [to go back to Trinidad], we had our bags packed. I was 12 at the time and we were crying because we hated being away from our parents. Especially since we haven't been with them for years." Clarke said. "My father decided enough was enough and that we were all staying together. We left our home in Trinidad and moved to Queens."
Clarke believed that basketball changed his life for the better. Without it, he wouldn't be in college and doing something he loves every day.
Clarke's dream was to play basketball professionally but coming out of high school, his SAT scores lacking and could not get him into a Division I university. He settled for a junior college in Oklahoma in order to grow academically.
"It was definitely a culture shock and I hated it at first, but it was a great learning experience and I grew a lot there because there isn't anything to do besides focus on school and basketball," Clarke chuckled. Clarke went to a scouting conference held for all junior colleges and was recognized by UTA and offered a full scholarship.
"As a kid growing up in Trinidad, I never imagined that I would ever be able to attend a university, let alone have a full scholarship from doing something I love," Clarke said.
With scouts constantly watching, he always has to be on his A-game. When asked if he ever gets nervous playing in front of scouts, Clark said he doesn't pay attention to them. He added, "As long as you do what you're good at on the court, you have a good chance of being recognized."
Clarke's humble beginnings started from a small island in the Caribbean, where he developed hard-working traits which eventually landed him a basketball scholarship to UTA. This is only the beginning of his journey. Clarke hopes to one day play professionally and be able to support his family through the sport he loves.
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