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  • Writer's pictureJ.Cooke

Interview with Denita Clark (Mom of UCLA Men's Basketball Player, Jaylen Clark)

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

ACADEMIC BALLER: Welcome, Denita. Congrats on all of Jaylen’s accomplishments. Highly ranked 4-star high school basketball recruit, 11th-best shooting guard in the class of 2020 and now UCLA Bruin. How are you feeling about Jaylen starting college this year?

DENITA: I'm really excited for Jaylen to be starting college this school year. The only hiccup is COVID-19. It is putting a damper on things.

ACADEMIC BALLER: Let’s talk about Jaylen’s high school student-athlete experience. With all the demands of school and basketball, how did Jaylen manage everything?

DENITA: Jaylen managed to juggle basketball and school by time management and sticking to a regimented schedule. Without it, it could get crazy.

ACADEMIC BALLER: Once the college recruiting process started, did that change your family’s approach to supporting Jaylen with school and basketball? Did you have to make any adjustments?

DENITA: Our approach for supporting Jaylen through the recruitment process never changed but learning how to navigate through the recruitment process was interesting to say the least. We found that there are a lot of moving pieces and you have to be patient yet direct. You have to be confident in your ability but not cocky. You must be a great listener and even better observer. Just know that what is meant for you, no one can take it away.

ACADEMIC BALLER: As a mom, we do it all! Cook, tutor, driver…everything! I even noticed at some of the games that you recorded stats for the team. You are an incredibly dedicated sport’s mom. How do you manage to meet the needs of raising an athlete but also taking time for yourself?

DENITA: I don't mind my role as a mom of an athlete and the many hats that come with it. I enjoy it as much as he does because I played the game. I love being around it and watching him mature. Now with that being said, I will get away to a spa day or post the "OFF DUTY" sign and that let's everyone know...don't bother me.

ACADEMIC BALLER: I remember being at the Damien Classic high school basketball tournament back in 2018. We chatted and I shared my dream of starting my own academic coaching company. Two years later, I have finally launched and so honored to have you as my first blog interview!

You are an amazing model for being a sport’s mom. Your son was heavily recruited and is now going to be a part of the UCLA Men’s Basketball team. Is there any advice to other sport’s moms on how to keep their student-athletes focused?

DENITA: My advice that I would give to other moms is keep your son grounded, manage his expectations, inspire him to dream and allow him to have fun. Don't try to live your unrealized dream through your child. After all it's their goal, their dream and their work ethic that will get them where they want to be.

ACADEMIC BALLER: Denita, thank you so much for your time. This is an honor to get your perspective as you have guided your son on how to successfully navigate the student-athlete landscape. Best of luck to Jaylen at UCLA.

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