MERIDEN — City native Daakeia McFadden Clarke, who got her start on Meriden’s basketball courts, was recently promoted to vice president of team business development for the New York Liberty women’s basketball team.
“From Lincoln Middle School, to making varsity at Platt to winning a scholarship to play (in college), to then having the opportunity to work in women’s professional basketball, it’s a dream come true,” Clarke said.
Clarke, 35, began playing at age 8 and in her early teens competed against boys.
“I would get out there and play with the guys in summer league and play on the neighborhood courts,” Clarke said.
After graduating from Platt High School in 1999, Clarke accepted a basketball scholarship to Canisius College in New York. She went on to earn a master’s degree in sports management from New York University and landed a marketing job with the WNBA. She later accepted a position as marketing manager for the New York Liberty and was promoted to vice president of team business management effective Jan. 30. The Liberty’s home court is Madison Square Garden.
Clarke now lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children.
“My time in Meriden, what it did show me is that from a community standpoint, everyone always showed me love especially when it came to basketball,” Clarke said. “There are times when I’m home now visiting my family and people ask: ‘Do you still play?’ ”
Clarke’s mother, Linda McFadden, raised her as a single parent and encouraged her to pursue her dreams.
“My daughter was able to live that out and never think that anything was an obstacle,” McFadden said. “You just have to keep believing in your dreams and that’s the thing I instilled in my daughter. I’m so proud of her ... It’s like a dream because you go from where I was (grew) up in the rural South — my parents migrated so we could have a better life and eventually we did. My daughter has what we could call the American dream.”
Mayor Kevin Scarpati hoped Clarke’s story could inspire others in the city.
“Anytime you hear a success story you are always happy to hear not only that someone is doing well but that their roots started here in our city and we hope that they don’t forget Meriden and come back and visit and share their story and inspire others,” Scarpati said. “Let them know nothing is out of reach.”
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