Samantha Clark, a native of Neptune, New Jersey, is a senior forward on the Fordham women’s basketball team. The Communication and Media Studies and sociology double major is having her best season yet, leading the squad in points, rebounds, blocks and steals. With Clark leading the way, the Rams are 6-4 in Atlantic 10 play, good for fifth in the conference.
The Fordham Ram: Tell me a bit about your recruiting process. What made you ultimately choose Fordham?
Samantha Clark: It was pretty crazy in the beginning. Coach Gaitley actually recruited me since I was in eighth grade. I had a really long relationship with her, and she’s always really persistent. She was at Monmouth before she came here, which is 20 minutes from my house. I was always in contact with her and just grew a great relationship with her. That’s a big thing with me, the player-coach relationship, so the more comfortable I got with her, the more I wanted to play for her. Then she came here, which is in a better conference than Monmouth, so it just worked out for me.
TFR: You were Fordham’s first ever Top-100 recruit for women’s basketball. Did you feel any pressure in your first year, coming in with that label?
SC: I didn’t know it was such a big deal at first. People were like, “Oh my God, Top-100 recruit!” I just wanted to do the best I could freshman year. Of course, you get jitters your freshman year and everything, so I just wanted to prove to myself that I was that good player and not just be nothing special. Nothing extra though, just the freshman jitters.
TFR: How have you adjusted to being a senior on the team?
SC: It’s different. Usually, I take a step back from the leadership roles, and this year it’s really been pushing me forward out of my comfort zone to be a leader for the team. There are only two seniors, and I’ve had so much experience on the court, so I’m really learning what it takes to be a leader. I think I’m doing better than I was at the beginning of the year.
TFR: You’re averaging career-highs in points per game, rebounds per game and field goal percentage. What’s been clicking for you in your last go-round as a Ram?
SC: I’m really working on inside game more. Usually, I defer to the outside, and Coach Gaitley’s always telling me to post up. I work out with her at least once a week, every week, and I think it’s really helping me this year.
TFR: Is there any one aspect of your game in which you take the most pride?
SC: I’d say defense. Help defense is my thing. I love being there to help my teammates and just get the extra stop. I know it’s not usually someone’s favorite thing to do, but I actually enjoy it.
TFR: Since you got here, the Rams have gone 83-41. What’s it been like for you to be a part of such a successful program on this level?
SC: I think it’s exciting. When Coach Gaitley came to Fordham, it was not really that great of a program, and she said, “You could be a part of this turnaround.” My freshman year, we went to the A-10 Finals — didn’t win that one. My sophomore year, we won it, and last year we were in the semifinals, so getting to be that turnaround team and getting us back on the map is really exciting.
TFR: Your team went to the NCAA Tournament in 2014. Describe what that experience was like for you.
SC: It’s just a crazy experience. It was so exciting to win A-10s and seeing our name on the big board, seeing we’re going to Waco, Texas. Playing a team like Cal, a big name team, was just so exciting, and we were right there to the buzzer. It was great to play with that team.
TFR: Your team is 9-3 at home this year. Is there anything about the atmosphere in the Rose Hill Gym that gives you guys an edge?
SC: We do have Kids Game at home, and that’s just a crazy environment. The entire gym’s filled with kids screaming. No one’s really used to that. But the band, our supporters, everyone’s just great. It really helps us get more motivated.
TFR: What’s your favorite non-basketball part of being at Fordham?
SC: I think just being around my teammates. We’re all great friends. Getting to build those relationships with people, I think I’ll have some of those relationships for a long time.
TFR: What are your plans for after graduation?
SC: As of right now, I don’t know. I’m double-majoring, so I’m hoping I can find something in my two fields, but as of right now, I’m just going to go home and enjoy the summer.
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