The Butler volleyball program continues to thrive under the guidance of head coach Sharon Clark, who begins her 10th season with the Bulldogs and 17th season as a collegiate coach in 2009.
Clark has made a habit of developing some of the top talent in the Horizon League, as six Butler players have been named to the conference all-newcomer team in the past four seasons, including the league’s 2008 Newcomer of the Year Kelsey Labrum.
Meanwhile, the team has steadily risen to the top half of the league standings. The 2008 Bulldogs finished the year with 19 wins – the school’s most since 2003 – and ended up just one set shy of reaching the Horizon League Championship match for the 10th time in program history.
Clark enters the season with a 237-239 record in 16 seasons as a head coach and a 135-131 slate in nine seasons with Butler, including a 65-63 mark against league foes.
A proven recruiter and developer of talent, Clark has coached a pair of All-Americans during her tenure, including two-time recipient Areal Bienemy, who was named as an AVCA All-America honorable mention selection in 2003 before repeating the honor in 2004. Additionally, Clark has coached 11 All-Horizon League Team members and nine All-Newcomer Team honorees during her time at Butler.
The Bulldogs have advanced to the league tournament semifinals five times in Clark’s nine seasons, including a break-out 2000 team that finished with an 18-12 record and a second-place finish at the tournament in her first season.
The 2003 squad put together the most successful season under Clark with a 20-12 overall record, finishing the season ranked fourth in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Midwest region and 55th nationally, according to RPI rankings. That campaign was followed by a 12-2 Horizon League mark in 2004, the best record since the 1997 season.
The 2006 season proved to be one of milestones for Clark, as the Bulldog mentor registered her 200th career victory with a thrilling 3-2 win over Evansville before notching her 100th Butler win in a 3-0 sweep at Youngstown State.
Clark came to Butler after serving as the head coach at the University of California-Davis for six seasons.
Her tenure with the Aggies was filled with success, as her teams averaged more than 16 wins per season and claimed two Northern California Athletic Conference titles to earn appearances in the NCAA Division II Championship. In addition, 90 percent of her student-athletes graduated, proving her commitment to both sides of the term “student-athlete.”
Clark racked up a 97-85 (.533) record in six years at UC-Davis. The 1996 team was her most successful group, boasting a 21-11 overall record and a dominant 11-1 mark in league play as the Aggies won their second Northern California Athletic Conference (NCAC) title in three seasons and made a return trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
The Aggies’ successful 1996 campaign earned Clark her second Coach of the Year honor from the NCAC. She was also honored as the Tachikara/AVCA Southwest Region Coach of the Year and was nominated for national coach of the year honors.
Clark began her head coaching career at Humboldt State in Arcata, Calif., where she spent a year on the Lumberjacks sidelines before moving to UC-Davis.
Prior to that, she served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at her alma mater Cal State-Sacramento from 1990-92, helping the Hornets to a 41-6 record in 1990 and an NCAA Division II quarterfinals appearance. In its first NCAA Division I season, the team posted a 20-13 record and a trip to the National Invitational Volleyball Championship.
Clark’s collegiate volleyball journey began at Cal State-Sacramento, where she played from 1985-88. Playing in 228 games over four years, she helped the Hornets to the NCAA Division II playoffs in each of her four seasons.
In addition to her work on the college sidelines, Clark is involved with several committees and numerous NCAA educational programs. She serves as the Horizon League representative for the AVCA Head Coaches Committee, is a co-chair of the AVCA Minority Coaches Clinic and serves on the Butler University Human Resources and Organizational Development committee.
She also sits on several national advisory boards and works as a Cadre with the USA Volleyball Coaching Accreditation Program (CAP), where she helps new coaches to become more educated and acclimated in the coaching field.
Clark is a 2005 graduate of the NCAA’s Women Coaches Academy, which was created to enhance the skills and perspectives of women coaches and to aid in the retention of women coaches in intercollegiate athletics. The program, just in its fourth year, included 26 coaches at Clark’s June 2005 session at Emory University in Atlanta.
A former winner of the NCAA Ethnic Minority Postgraduate Scholarship, Clark also co-founded Club Sacramento, a junior volleyball team, in 1985. She coached the team for eight years, including a sixth-place finish in the 1991 Junior Olympics.
In 2007, she was honored with the Sam Lacy Pioneer Award, presented by the sports task force of the National Association of Black Journalists, for her success and leadership as an NCAA head coach and member of the AVCA.
Earlier that year, she was recognized as just one of six recipients nationwide of the Rebecca Howard Star Award from USA Volleyball for demonstrating a successful commitment to diversity in the sport.
Clark graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree in physical education from California State-Sacramento in 1989 and received her master’s degree in sports administration from her alma mater in 1994.
She and her husband, Tim, have a son, Myles Oliver.