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First Clark Invitational Saturday

Outstanding educator, role model and coach are just a few of the endearing terms used by former Bainbridge High School athletes and students to describe long time Bainbridge High School Bearcats head track coach Larry Clark.

This Saturday, many current and former Bainbridge High School Bearcats and Lady Cats athletes whose lives Coach Clark touched in a loving and caring way through the years, will be at the new Bainbridge High School track to cheer on 2010 Bearcats and Lady Cats track performers at the first Larry Clark Invitational Track Meet.

Bearcats head track coach Larry Cosby and Lady Cats head track coach Tandria Cox-Phillips, two of Coach Clark’s outstanding former student athletes, will be at his side hosting the meet, which will get underway at 9 a.m.

Admission is $3.

Visiting teams will include Cairo, Monroe, Westover, Lee County and Lowndes County.

Coach Cox-Phillips, who excelled in track and basketball at BHS and earned a track scholarship to Albany State University, still holds the Lady Cats long jump record of 18 feet, 2 1/2 inches she set in 1993.

Coach Cosby, who excelled in football and track at BHS, earned a football scholarship to Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tenn., where he was a running back on the football team.

“Coach Clark has always been there for us and a lot of other young people,” Cosby said. “He made sure we worked hard in the classroom and in our athletic endeavors,” Cox-Phillips added. “He even checked on us when we went off to college to make sure were doing what we should be doing.”

Cox-Phillips added, “We have wanted to host an annual invitational meet in his honor for some time to let him know how much he has meant to us and untold others. He helped a lot of athletes, but he helped a lot of other young people as well. I don’t know of a better role model for young people anywhere than Coach Clark.”

Coach Clark lists his mother, Mrs. Ossie Clark Thompson, as his No. 1 role model, his wife, Shirley, and daughters Shirmil and Shirelle as his biggest supporters, and the late Coach David Bonner, who coached him at Hutto High School and Bainbridge High School, and the late Coach Miller Shealy, who coached him at Bainbridge High School, as major role models during his athletic and academic career.

Since Coach Clark took over coaching and coordination of the Bainbridge High School track programs they have won Region championships in 1987, 1990, 1991, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.