CVCC’s Clark first to earn First Team All-American twice

CVCC’s Clark first to earn First Team All-American twice

HICKORY, N.C. — Catawba Valley Community College sophomore volleyball player Emma Clark made school history on Wednesday, becoming the first student athlete to earn All-American status on First Team twice in a Red Hawk career.

Clark was tabbed First Team All-American by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) — becoming only the seventh student athlete at CVCC to earn All-American status in both of their seasons.

"It means a lot," Clark said of her second-straight All-American honor. "I'm very honored for it. I couldn't have done it without my team and without my coaches. I wasn't expecting it. I'm very honored for it. I'm very thankful for it."

Clark's All-American status extends Catawba Valley's streak of consecutive years with at least one All-American to nine straight.

She is the third CVCC volleyball player to earn All-American status twice in a career, joining Megan Fair (2015-17) and recent CVCC Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Terri Ferber Fulbright (2005-07).

"I am so proud of Emma and all that she has accomplished in her seasons at Catawba Valley," said CVCC head volleyball coach Shannon Hudson. "I can't think of a more deserving young lady. It has been a blessing to be Emma's coach. Every practice with her was full of effort, enthusiasm and encouragement for her teammates. She's the ultimate player, and I know that she will continue to do great things at the next level."

Powered by Clark and a group of eight other sophomores, the Catawba Valley volleyball team finished its season with a 34-6 overall, including an 11-0 mark in Region 10 play.

The Red Hawks did not lose a single set in conference matches this fall — a program first — and CVCC made a ninth NJCAA national tournament appearance after winning the Southeast District championship.

Clark believes her team's successes were a product of becoming closer with one another.

"Our relationships have definitely grown stronger since last year," she said. "On a team, you're going to have highs and lows. You grow through those times. With us, we've had a lot of those highs and lows this year. At the end of the day, we are really close now."

Despite its achievements in 2019, the Catawba Valley volleyball team came up short of its goal of claiming a first-ever national championship in program history after being hampered late in the season by injuries, including Clark's ankle.

"At end of the day, we were hurt and sad that we lost, but we were more proud and thankful for the journey," Clark said. "That's what I like about this team. Honestly, I believe that brought us more together because we wanted to work harder. We realized we were all going through it. I have relationships that will probably last for a lifetime honestly."

Aside from improving her physical talent, Clark believes she has matured as a person during her two years at Catawba Valley Community College.

"I've always had a confidence issue," she said. "I didn't really have the confidence in myself. I put myself down easily, but over these past two years, I've learned to kind of get rid of that low self esteem and tell myself that I can do this if I put my mind to it. Just looking back at this past year, I see what I am capable of. We are all capable of something amazing if we just have that confidence."

Clark finishes her CVCC career with a record 326 blocks, surpassing former Red Hawk volleyball standout Anna Henderson's mark of 311 blocks.

The former Watauga product and Boone, N.C. native also ends her career ranked in the top-three in several statistical categories, including 735 kills (third), 1016.5 points scored (third) and 1.27 blocks per set (second).

"It's nice that I won't be forgotten," Clark said. "I wanted to be able to make an impact. I didn't want to be forgotten."

Other than her time on the court, Clark will remember how just much Catawba Valley Community College impacted her life as a student and person.

"The whole environment here is so welcoming," she said. "It takes that stress away that I had. If I do have struggles with a class, I can go get help for free. Everyone always has time for you. That's what I love about CVCC is just not having to feel like you don't have anyone to help. You always have someone here to help you."