What makes senior Layshia Clarendon special? Truly, it is not the points she scores as Cal’s starting shooting guard, even if she does lead the team with an average of 11.6 points scored per game. She may be one of Cal’s all-time top-10 women’s basketball scorers, scoring more than 1,500 points in her nearly four years at Cal, but then again, there are nine other women on that list. No, what makes Layshia Clarendon special is not her athleticism and talent — it’s her character.
At a time when the football team embarrasses Cal by having the lowest graduation rate in the Pac-12, Layshia Clarendon makes the Bears proud by placing an emphasis on school. For a Division I basketball player, free time is hard to come by. And yet, Layshia Clarendon finds the time to build a 3.456 GPA — the highest GPA on the team. She is a role model to the younger players of the team — proving that it is possible to balance being a student and an athlete.
As Daily Cal sports writer Austin Crochetiere aptly put it, “Clarendon is the motor that makes the Cal engine turn.” She is the quiet leader of the team, demonstrating how things are done through her actions instead of telling her teammates what to do. Her position as her team’s leader is something that evolved organically — not something Clarendon forced. Her natural tendency to be quiet and do her own thing kept her out of the spotlight in her first two years, but in the last year and a half, Clarendon has stepped up to fill the role of the leader when her team was in need.
Layshia Clarendon is selfless. It’s relatively easy for professional athletes to do generous things with their ridiculous amounts of money, but it is far more difficult for a college student to find the time to get involved in the community. But Clarendon finds the time. As a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, she is involved in many volunteer activities, including serving meals at the homeless shelter, being a note-taker for the Disabled Students Program and being a member of the Gay Straight Alliance. Again, she leads through example, and students across Cal, not just her teammates, could learn from her dedication to her community. She is a discreet hero.
Clarendon earns respect but does not ask for it. She is the embodiment of a Cal Bear, and she deserves our support. Right now, she’s one of the 10 women nationally who are candidates of the NCAA Senior Class Award. One-third of the decision of the award is up to the fans. From now until March 25, you get one vote every day to thank Layshia Clarendon for being such a stellar example of the Cal student body.
Layshia, if you’re reading this, Cal is going to miss you when you leave next year, but know that you’ve left it a better place for your having been a Berkeley student.
Image source: Neon Tommy under Creative Commons