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Nichols names Clarke as its next boys basketball coach

Pat Clarke hasn't coached high school basketball in quite some time.

He should have a lot of fun returning to the sidelines in the no-nights-off Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association, guiding one of Western New York's signature programs.

The boys hoops coaching vacancy at Nichols has been filled, as the Vikings tabbed Clarke – a former longtime college assistant -- to fill the post.

The school announced the hiring of the Olean native and St. Bonaventure graduate on Tuesday as he succeeds Darren Fenn, who stepped down earlier this spring.

In Clarke, Nichols gets a coach who has been around Division I basketball since 1999 – when he left his position as coach of four sports and athletic director at Archbishop Walsh to join Jim Baron's staff at St. Bonaventure.

Clarke worked with Baron at St. Bonaventure (1999-2001), Rhode Island (2001-12) and Canisius College (2012-16) – first as director of basketball operations and later as a full-time assistant/associate coach.

"We are very excited to have a coach with his level of experience here at Nichols," athletic director Rob Stewart said. "We're confident he's going to be a great leader and role model for our students."

Being a mentor is the big reason Clarke wanted to get back into coaching. He is currently the Director of Athletic Facilities at Canisius College.

He spent the past year getting used to his position at the college – where he's in charge of club sports and intramurals – but missed not having a team of his own to work with as a coach.

"While the new job took a lot of time and energy, when the afternoon came around in the back of my mind I missed not having a team to go to," Clarke said. "I have a deep passion for coaching. I think it's a great venue to help mentor young people."

Clarke takes over a Nichols program that has made four straight Manhattan Cup championship game appearances – two at Class A and two at Class B – winning in 2014 and 2016. The Vikings dropped a tough two-point decision to St. Mary's in last winter's Class B final.

Clarke, 52, coached four sports during his time at Walsh (1989-99), including boys basketball from 1990-99. He also coached football, baseball and softball. Clarke amassed a 151-102 mark as Eagles basketball coach, guiding them to a state championship game appearance.

"Nichols has such a reputation academically, and with basketball just the fact they're in the Monsignor Martin is second to none," Clarke said. "It just seemed like a great opportunity."

While there will be a difference between coaching at the college and high school levels, the players do have something in common.

"My sense is all young people, what they want from a coach is passion and honesty," Clarke said. "That's what I am, a facilitator to help them improve their game and help them achieve what they want to accomplish."

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