Revered coach’s daughter leads her own legacy


Alex Grado

Deedria Clark-Peeler at a men’s baseball game. Clark-Peeler is the daughter of James “Gym” Clark and the official stat-keeper for Cosumnes River College.

Deedria Clark-Peeler had just arrived on campus with her husband Steven Peeler, who was getting things ready for a men’s baseball game. She sat down at the table and said, “Rare off day.”
Deedria, better known as Dee Dee, is the daughter of the late James “Gym” Clark, who was the men’s basketball head coach from 1972-2003. Clark was responsible for the construction of Cosumnes River College’s gym and is also the namesake of it.
Clark-Peeler has followed in her father’s footsteps a bit and begun to build her own legacy. Her father brought her on as the official stat-keeper in 1976 and her expertise in stat-keeping would lead her to become the official scorekeeper ahead of the 1982 season. Something she continues to do to this day.
“It’s been a regular part of my life,” Clark-Peeler said. “Basically, for the last 40 years, I’ve had a basketball schedule and everything I did revolved around that schedule.”
Clark-Peeler said she had a bit of a learning curve as a 16 year old girl, but found her footing thanks to her dad and even some former referees.
“There were doubts,” she said. “At first, the referees knew I was his daughter, so they’d cut me some slack and teach me some things. The guys (on the team) weren’t sure of me at first, but after a while they figured out I knew what I was doing.”
Clark-Peeler also said she never thought she’d make it this long, but as her father’s sidekick she knew where her heart was.
“As long as my dad was here, I knew I would be here,” Clark-Peeler said.
With her father’s passing in 2003, there was some doubt whether she would continue, but Clark-Peeler continued on.
“When he passed, there were thoughts of stopping,” she said. “My first thought was to forget basketball, but as he was going through chemo, he’d tell me, ‘You need to be with the guys.’”
Clark-Peeler said she also felt that she had a bit of an obligation to the coaches she had been around over the years.
“My dad and his assistant, Charles ‘Chuck’ Wilder were very good friends and I couldn’t leave him here by himself,” she said. “So that first year I stuck around, then the following years a lot of coaches were people I knew from being around my dad and I couldn’t leave them hanging.”
She’s even begun to see some of her dad’s former players walk through the halls like current men’s basketball head coach Jonathan James.
“Now that Jonathan is here, I think my dad would come into a dream and haunt me if I left him,” Clark-Peeler said.
She said she felt that some of the coaches that came through CRC after her father were not as focused on education, but she’s thankful for the new regime under Athletic Director Collin Pregliasco and coach James for re-introducing the importance of education.
Pregliasco said it’s huge having her on staff.
“The continued history of having a Clark, since we all know who her dad is, is a great connection to our history,” Pregliasco said.
Assistant Athletic Director Jeannie Calamar said “Gym” Clark lives on through Clark-Peeler and called her a good friend.
“It does keep coach Clark’s legacy alive and Dee Dee has gotten her own now,” Calamar said.
Clark-Peeler acknowledged that being at the school has helped her cope with her dad’s passing.
“I had the best example I could have,” Clark-Peeler said. “It was strange at first not seeing him come through that door, but being here has helped a lot.”
Calamar said she knows coach Clark is proud of his daughter. Clark-Peeler concurred as well.
Clark-Peeler is currently a board member of the James Clark Memorial Scholarship along with her sister Dawn Clark-Lamb, which awards $1,000 yearly to a student-athlete at CRC. The scholarship has donated nearly $20,000 since its inception in 2004.
She is currently on staff with her husband Steven as a game manager for the athletics, helping wherever is needed on gameday to ensure a smooth process for the rest of the sports teams.