‘Dreams do come true’

Published 12:18 am Sunday, April 27, 2014

Clark makes Virginia Sports Hall of fame

Suffolk’s LaTasha Colander Clark returned to her native Portsmouth this weekend to continue living the dream, already punctuated by Olympic gold. She was part of the Class of 2014 inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Gold standard: Former Olympian LaTasha Colander Clark participates in an autograph session on Saturday during the weekend of her induction into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. (Titus Mohler/Suffolk News-Herald)

Gold standard: Former Olympian LaTasha Colander Clark participates in an autograph session on Saturday during the weekend of her induction into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. (Titus Mohler/Suffolk News-Herald)

“I’m back home, and it’s a dream come true, and I think everything’s coming full circle,” she said during an autograph session at the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

She remembered first coming back from winning the gold medal in the 4×400-meter relay at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. The Hall of Fame let her know it was going to do something nice for her then, but it did not stop there.

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“Now, it’s year’s later, a Hall of Fame induction, so it’s an honor, and dreams do come true,” Clark said. “I can say that again after the Olympics.”

Clark said she had long dreamed of being among the Alonzo Mournings of the area, referring to the former NBA star and hall of fame inductee.

She recalled that when she was still running track in college, a specific wish came into her mind.

“I started thinking, ‘Man, it’d be wonderful. One day, maybe, I’ll make the Olympic team and maybe go into the Hall of Fame,’” she said. “So, it was a dream, but I did not know actually if it was going to come true. But it has come true, and I thank the Lord for that.”

The nomination process for Hall of Fame nominees “actually goes through an honors court committee, and there’s about 30 athletic directors, coaches, media personnel — all those are on the honors court, and then they vote on the new class of inductees,” said Corry Gross, marketing and sales coordinator for the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

Each year’s induction class includes four athletes, two contributors (administrators or coaches, generally) and one member of the media.

Honors court committee members can vote for multiple candidates. Clark had to receive either 70 percent support from the voters or be among the top four athlete vote recipients in order to earn induction.

Aside from Olympic glory, her candidacy was also aided by her being an All-American at the University of North Carolina.

Clark was in good company with the Class of 2014, which also included five-time Pro Bowl selection NFL player Rondé Barber and three-time Major League Baseball all-star Sean Casey.

The autograph session before Saturday’s induction was just one event in the scheduled Hall of Fame Weekend festivities. A sports auction, including autographed memorabilia and ticket packages, was held Friday at the museum, where display cases for the inductees were also unveiled.

The Hall of Fame and Museum also hosted a golf tournament and on Saturday evening at the museum, the 43rd annual induction banquet, which sealed the class’s induction.

“I’m just so in awe of the moment and just letting it sink in,” Clark said. “My family’s here, so it’s just a wonderful time to share with all my family, friends and the community.”