AJ Clark ’22, M’24 had decided to work in the sports field as a career.
After all, Clark was a standout basketball player for the Trinity Tigers men’s team from 2018 to 2023, receiving a COVID-19 exemption for eligibility. His cousin, Jimmy Clark ’15, M’17, was also a Tiger men’s player. Clark’s dad, Joe Clark, recently retired after 38 years with the San Antonio Spurs as a vice president.
But some world events changed Clark’s mind about his future.
“I came to a crossroads toward the end of my sophomore year when COVID hit,” Clark explains. “The world shut down except for health care. At that point, I was not sure if sports was what I wanted to do, so I started asking people what they were doing. The work my sister was doing as a nurse truly inspired me and made me realize that I wanted to work in health care. I always wanted to do something that mattered, and obviously, health care was the field that mattered the most.”
Clark completed the 2022-23 basketball season while enrolled in Trinity’s Master of Science in Health Care Administration. In January, he will begin his required one-year internship to complete his graduate degree, gaining experience with the Methodist Healthcare System in the San Antonio area.
He earned a Bachelor of Science from Trinity in 2022 in business analytics and technology, with minors in communication management and sport management. During this time, he had conversations with cousin Jimmy Clark, who earned the Trinity graduate degree in health care administration, which further piqued his interest in the field. Jimmy Clark is now vice president of operations for the UT Health System in Tyler, Texas. Another mentor was Kevin Scoggin ’10, CEO of Methodist Hospital Specialty and Transplant in San Antonio.
“After these conversations,” Clark says, “the light bulb clicked. I saw a lot of parallels with the job to sports. What I liked in sports—the leadership and teamwork—could be combined with a career in health care.”
Clark had an outstanding basketball career at Trinity. In 2021, he and three other Trinity players trained with the U.S. Olympic 3x3 Women’s Basketball team, which went on to win gold in the Olympics. Last basketball season, Clark, a team captain, averaged 13.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, while the team finished 20-7 and placed second in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC). He was selected as the SCAC Man of the Year, which honors student-athletes who have distinguished themselves in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service, and leadership.
Clark was named the 2022-23 SCAC Defensive Player of the Year and was a First Team All-SCAC honoree. Clark also earned his third consecutive SCAC Elite 19 award, presented to a player with the highest GPA in a sport. He also was elected to the College Sports Communicators (formerly College Sports Information Directors of America) All-District Team for the third straight season. The National Association of Basketball Coaches named Clark to the organization’s Honors Court on two occasions.
However, the pièce de résistance occurred in June when Clark was awarded a prestigious $10,000 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, which he is using to earn his health care administration degree. The coveted scholarship is awarded to only 21 men and 21 women in all NCAA divisions during a particular season.
Clark is proud of his time as a Trinity Tigers basketball player and will cherish the memories and lessons for a lifetime.
“I started out my first two years with Coach Pat Cunningham, and he was an awesome coach,” Clark says. “My last three years with Coach Jimmy Smith helped my career in terms of performance and the team’s performance. I wouldn’t be where I am without him. My favorite experience was making the NCAA Division III Tournament my senior year (2022) and winning our first game.”
Clark also cited Jacob Tingle ’95, Ed.D, chair of the sport management minor and associate professor of business administration, as a big influence in his life. As the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative, Tingle nominated Clark for the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
“The traditional track of a lot of alumni is to get to the C-suite in hospital operations,” Clark says of his future in health care administration. “I’m really excited to start at Methodist, and I want to learn as much as I can. I can’t wait to make a difference in the community with my future career.”
Clark is not quite finished with awards. On November 2, Clark will participate in a Texas Business Hall of Fame event at San Antonio’s Henry B. González Convention Center. He will receive a Future Texas Business Legend Award, which honors student entrepreneurs.
Clark may be reached at Aclark1@trinity.edu.