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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024
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Clark-Heard to lead women's hoops

Michelle Clark-Heard was announced as Mercer's 11th head women's basketball coach on Friday.
Michelle Clark-Heard was announced as Mercer's 11th head women's basketball coach on Friday.

Michelle Clark-Heard was announced as Mercer’s next women’s basketball head coach on Friday.

Clark-Heard will be the 11th head coach of the program after former head coach Susie Gardner parted ways with the team earlier this month. She will take charge of a team that has not had a winning season since the 2021/22 season, when the Bears won the Southern Conference title.

"It was very important for us throughout the search process that we found the right leader and person that would bring both excellence and integrity to the women's basketball program, and I believe Coach Clark-Heard exemplifies both of those qualities," Sybil Blalock, Mercer's chief operating officer, told Mercer Athletics. "Her passion, energy, knowledge of the game and recruiting acumen are all characteristics that make her a perfect fit for Mercer."

The veteran head coach comes to Mercer after leaving her post as the assistant athletic director for women’s basketball at Mississippi State University. Before that, she was the head coach at the University of Cincinnati, where she registered two winning seasons with the Bearcats.

She cut her teeth with Kentucky State University, turning around a program that had lost all but one game in the season before she arrived. In her second year with the Thorobrettes, the team went 19-9, winning as many games in one season as it had in its past three.

Her next head coaching stop was with her alma mater, Western Kentucky University, in 2012/13. In six seasons with the Hilltoppers, Clark-Heard amassed a 154-47 overall record and won four conference titles, one in the Sun Belt Conference and three in Conference-USA.

At Western Kentucky, Clark-Heard took the team to four NCAA tournaments and earned two WNIT tournament berths, going as far as the quarterfinals in the 2016 WNIT tournament.

According to Western Kentucky athletics, Clark-Heard was an assistant coach for the United States U-23 Women’s National Team when it won the inaugural Four Nations Tournament. She coached current superstar Sabrina Ionescu in that time, in addition to other current WNBA players.

Gabriel Kopp

Gabriel Kopp '26 is majoring in Journalism and Law and Public Policy at Mercer University. He has written for The Cluster since he started at Mercer, and currently works as the Sports Editor. When he isn't studying, he enjoys going for runs and reading the New York Times.

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