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Akins remembers Clark’s influence

The positive influence Coach Larry Clark has had on young people’s lives in Decatur County through the years was brought into focus by one of his former star pupils on Saturday.

The occasion was the first Coach Larry Clark Invitational track meet, hosted by Coach Larry Cosby’s Bearcats and Coach Tandria Phillips’ Lady Cats at the new Bainbridge High School track and the star pupil was former Bearcats star hurdler Ty Akins, a three time All-American with the Auburn University Tigers.

“He was a coach and a father figure to all his student athletes through the years, and I think it’s just great that they are starting an annual meet in his honor,” Akins said after embracing Coach Clark prior to the beginning of Saturday’s meet.

“Coach Clark was stern with us, but we always knew he cared about us,” Akins continued.

“When I was very young, I attended Jones-Wheat Elementary School where he is principal. When we messed up, we would have to sit on the red bench outside his office waiting to go in, see him and receive our discipline,” Akins said. “When I got to Bainbridge High School, and he was my track coach, he checked our academic progress to make sure we were doing what we should. If a student track athlete was not progressing well academically, they would not be able to compete for him.”

Akins, son of Phyllis and Samuel Freeman and Howard Stephens, earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Auburn in 2009.

“My parents and coach Clark have supported me every step of the way,” he said. “They are my role models and my heroes.”

While at Auburn, Akins won the 2008 Southeastern Conference (SEC) 60-meter hurdles indoor championship at the University of Arkansas.

The 2003-2004 Bainbridge High School male senior athlete of the year, he won the 60-meter and 110-meter hurdles championships his senior season. He was also a starting wide receiver on the Bearcats football team.

He is currently competing round the world in professional track, having already competed in Spain, England, France and Italy. In the near future, he will be competing in meets in South America and the Caribbean.