Cambi Clark came home to Fort Wayne to help her father die. Now she's staying to help keep his memory alive.
Before longtime Homestead tennis coach Jim Clark died a year ago of cancer at age 66, he told his daughter his dream of building a new tennis facility for the southwest Allen County community. He wanted to make it the best outdoor facility in the area but knew he would never have the chance to complete it.
Though she was a little intimidated, she didn't really have the option of saying no. She also didn't want to.
``In one way it was an easy thing, because how do I want to carry on his legacy?'' she said. "On the other hand, I've never been given any responsibility like this. Was I a tennis player? Yes, but nothing like on the level of the best kids he coached. I decided this is kind of my thank you to him because I know how important it was to him to give back to tennis and the community.''
Her father knew the 10 Homestead courts were getting worn out and no longer met the United States Tennis Association standards. He wanted a place where youngsters could start playing the game and become the next generation of great players from the area. He really wanted to give a boost to his sport, the game he always credited with turning his life around.
"Originally, Dad thought this might be something he'd have to fund by himself,'' Cambi Clark said. ``He was such a people person and had so many connections, this probably would have been a piece of cake for him.''
It hasn't been for his daughter, but the Jimmy Clark Community Tennis Facility is coming together and someday soon there will be a cake at the grand opening. Southwest Allen County Schools is paying for 12 state-of-the-art courts, and Cambi Clark and the Southwest Community Tennis Foundation are trying to raise $500,000 to build a tennis house with observation deck and storage area.
About half the money has been raised, and some more will be at a fundraiser June 21 from 6-9:30 p.m. at Wildwood Racquet Club, 508 N. Hadley Road. A silent auction will include items such as Colts tickets, golf packages, Cubs and IU basketball tickets, and a one-week home rental in Hilton Head. Facility plans and donation options are available at www.coachjimmyclark.com.
Clark is president of the Southwest Community Tennis Foundation and gets lots of help from former Homestead players like Joey Christoff, Jeff Terrill, Jeff Hopper, Kris Rajchel, Laura Chafee and LouAnn Stone and Wildwood's Will Cleveland. They are all doing this for the same reason, as a way to thank their coach.
``It's been so great, seeing all the familiar faces,'' Cambi Clark said. ``That's what's been so crazy about the board, I can't believe how dedicated everyone has been to this and how much work they are putting in. I think Dad would be so happy seeing all of this coming to fruition. He's going to be so excited for the kids.''
And also what his kid has accomplished.