SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Athletic Director Joy Couch and the Converse College Athletics Department is pleased to announce the hiring of Valerie Clarke as the new head coach for the Valkyries Field Hockey Team.
Clarke, who served as the club administrator, elite head coach, and goalkeeping coach for the Milwaukee Field Hockey Club, will bring close to a decade of coaching experience to a young Converse team that will be entering its second year of competition in 2018.
"We are very happy to introduce Coach Clarke as our new head field hockey coach," said Couch. "Her knowledge and passion for the sport, along with her extensive experience as a coach, will continue to move our program forward."
Clarke was an assistant coach for Concordia Wisconsin for the past 2 seasons, focusing on the goalkeeper development. Goalie was named to SAA (conference) all-tournament team in 2017. Coached 2nd team All-Region player and rookie of the year for conference. Also helped with travel planning and recruiting. 2nd year program won 6 games its first year and 5 its second year, all while traveling 5+ hours for each game since no other field hockey in Wisconsin.
Clarke spent the past four seasons as the head coach of the elite level travel teams of the Milwaukee Field Hockey Club in Mequon, Wisc., focusing on the U16 level and the newer athletes' development. She also coached the goalkeepers for the U14 team, who finished 6th at the National Club Championship in 2017. On the recruiting front she helped to recruit players who wanted to continue at the next level post-graduation and currently has three players headed to Division I schools, one to Division II, and three to Division III.
"I am incredibly excited about this amazing opportunity to become a head coach and lead a program," stated Clarke. "I have similar experience with new programs as CUW is only in its 2nd year, and I know the Converse team is ready to achieve even more in their second season."
Prior to her stint at the club level Clarke coached High School Field Hockey for University School of Milwaukee from 2010-11 and then Divine Savior Holy Angels High School from 2011-15. In 2010 her team won the Wisconsin State Championship after an undefeated season.
Clarke graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and German from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn. She played all four years for the Lynx as a goalkeeper, where she led the conference in goals against average during her senior season. Clarke also helped guide her team to conference championships during her freshman and seniors campaigns. She also obtained her Masters of Science in Sport Management from Cardinal Stritch University.
A 2006 graduate of the Asheville School in North Carolina she was a three-sport athlete (field hockey, snowboarding, and soccer) where she won multiple conference championships and state awards.
"This team is set up for big things and I cannot wait to build the program into the top field hockey program in the southeast," she concluded. "It was an easy decision for me to come to Converse because of my ties to the Carolina region and the Upstate. With family here (my husband's), it already feels like home, and now I get to come and live my passion by coaching a Division II field hockey program, so it was the perfect fit."
Clarke will reside in the Spartanburg area with her husband, James, and their six-month old chocolate lab puppy, Sadie.