(Norm Clarke (right) with wife Natalie Vukovitch and son Brody Clarke at the OBA Awards Gala)
Norm Clarke, Julian Clarke, Brody Clarke...it’s safe to say that basketball runs in the family, it’s in the bloodstream.
Add to that the fact that Norm’s wife, Natalie Vukovich, is an accomplished player in her own right, it becomes clear that the game is not just that for the Clarke family...it’s a lifestyle.
Vukovich was a two-time national championship at Laurentian, while Norm was a member of the Canadian national team in 1988, after completing his university career as a St. Bonaventure Bonnie (NCAA).
After being asked about his initial aspirations on playing for the national program, Norm responded, “When I first saw basketball on T.V it was the Olympics, I said what is this? I’d like to do this one day.”
That he did, as he played for the legendary Canadian national team coach Jack Donohue, while creating many positive memories.
“I’ve had so many great memories with the team which includes defeating Bulgaria for bronze at the world student games in Japan.”
Clarke also shed light on his Pan-American games experience in Indianapolis. Without the most talented of teams, it took unity to maximize success.
“It’s not about one player being a star, it’s about pulling together like a team,” he explained.
Of course as with all teams, there are ups and downs and sometimes conflict, which all contribute to the experience as a whole.
However, Clarke admits he has grown from this experience as an individual, and extends the Canada Basketball tradition to his children Julian and Brody.
While Julian is currently in his sophomore year in the NCAA (Santa Clara), and Brody dominates the senior level as a tenth-grader at Oakwood, this national program alumnus sits back and observes as his seeds blossom.
“I’m very hands on but I didn’t plan to be. It was not my wish to be their coach in the beginning but as they continued to play and [experimenting with different coaches], we realized it was in their best interest for me to coach them.”
Norm is the first generation, who played at the senior national level. Julian and Brody continue as the second generation playing on the junior national team and cadet national team respectively!
Countless life-lasting experiences have been generated and many relationships have been made in Norm Clarke’s basketball career, however despite popular belief that career is not yet complete. He continues to be very much involved through coaching.
“Basketball is very much a part of my life. I enjoy it because I get to teach and help the youth improve on their skills.”
Clarke coaches various teams including Oakwood Collegiate (high school), and Toronto Triple Threat (OBA) and is giving back to the community.
If he can continue to develop even a fraction of what he has done in his own household in terms of basketball talent, the amateur scene is in good hands.