Clarke Brown a calming ‘California attitude’ for Syracuse in her debut season

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ A doctor and nurse coached Hilton and Yvette Brown as they awaited their second child. On Feb. 23, 1999, Clarke Brown was born, and 20 seconds into her life someone in the hospital room announced that she had a slow heartbeat. Yvette was immediately alarmed. She was a new mom. She didn’t know what a slow heart rate meant.When the staff reassured the parents, they gave a surprising response.“Nothing to be concerned about,” Hilton remembered. “It just means she’s an athlete.”The doctors were right. Through 18 years, Brown’s parents saw her surprise teachers and coaches alike with her athletic ability. She routinely appeared at wingback in her freshman season for Syracuse (7-8-2, 2-6-1 Atlantic Coast), a team that barely recruited her. Her competitiveness stunned her father, and her calm personality has soothed teammates on the field.“I thought (our first-born, Hilton III) was going to be my killer athlete,” Hilton said. “The one that just destroys the competition. Well, he’s the athlete who likes to have fun and just connect with opponents. But Clarke was the killer.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBrown played in the American Youth Soccer Organization, a league with age groups starting at under 5 years old and as old as 19. Hilton remembered opposing coaches approaching him to say Clarke dribbled through opponents as if they were cones and she was running a drill.Hilton and Brown eventually began betting on how many goals she would score, and he’d often underestimate. “That’s one,” she’d say from the field. Then, looking his way again a short time later: “That’s two.”She played high school and club soccer in California, growing up with an immense love for sweets, basketball, shopping and beaches. She misses her Cocker Spaniel, Rocco, and watching horror movies with her dad.“The bloodier the better,” Hilton said.Her laid-back attitude is a running joke on the Orange, Alana O’Neill said. They say it’s just the way California girls are, “relaxed and chill.”“Players love her,” SU head coach Phil Wheddon said. “…Doesn’t seem to get stressed about much.”Brown has an underlying competitiveness though, Hilton said. When Hilton and Clarke hit the mini-golf course, Yvette steps away as the tension rises.“The two of them are very aggressive when they play,” Yvette said. “A lot of trash talk and smack talking that frankly makes me uncomfortable, and I sometimes have to excuse myself.”But Brown wanted to leave it all, forge her own path and get far away from home. As they traveled across the country visiting schools, Brown knew Syracuse was it because it provided a major basketball program and a change of scenery.“She wanted weather, she wanted snow, she wanted to be away from home,” Yvette said.Brown reached out to Syracuse herself, and the team invited her to an annual camp where the Orange tries out potential recruits. Coaches had seen little of Brown, not knowing one year later she’d become an integral part of the position group that inspired a new wingback system.“I personally didn’t get to see her play much until she came into preseason,” Wheddon said. “She’s athletic, she can pass, she can get up and down the field. She’s difficult to beat. Therefore, she became a candidate for that wingback position. She’s been able to come in and help us at times.”She has yet to start a game, but appeared in 15 of Syracuse’s first 17 games in relief, tied for second with Kate Hostage among the team’s freshman class. At Redondo Union (California) High School and her two club teams, coaches placed her at outside back with four defenders, which she said helped prepare her to play the physically demanding wingback position in Syracuse’s three-back system.It just means she’s an athlete.Hilton BrownWhen Eva Gordon and O’Neill need a rest, Wheddon calls Brown to substitute in. She’s only recorded one shot this season, but teammates say her calm demeanor translates into effective play. O’Neill, her fellow wingback, said it’s typical for freshman to be nervous or frantic, but Brown’s game is relaxed and composed.“I really like how she plays,” defender Jessica Vigna said. “She’ll always just play simple and making sure we find feet. Doesn’t really play kickball…it’s a very nice, calming presence just to settle everyone down.”Her parents watched her season unfold until this past weekend on a big screen TV, to make it feel like they’re present. They remember when her club teammates nicknamed her the “silent killer,” and are waiting for when that side of her game unleashes. Part of her low-key personality, Hilton says, makes her hesitant to display her full range of capabilities.“She’s not the person who’s going to walk in a room and command that room right away,” Yvette said. “She’s going to sit back, survey the situation, figure everything out, and then slowly makes her mark and that’s how she’s been on every team she’s ever been on.” Comments Published on October 23, 2017 at 11:55 pm Contact Bobby: [email protected]last_img read more