2005 Miss Basketball DeHaan Cherishing Newest Title: 1st-Time Mom

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for Second Half

July 25, 2022

JENISON – Allyssa DeHaan-Clark remains one of the greatest shot blockers in national high school and college basketball history.

Recently, the former Grandville High School and Michigan State University standout became a  mother for the first time.

DeHaan-Clark, and her husband Aaron, adopted a baby girl last September.

Bradley Noelle Clark was born on Sept. 29, 2021, at 36 weeks.

When the Clarks found out about the impending delivery, they drove straight to the hospital from their vacation in Tennessee to meet her. They took her home a few days later.

“Parenthood is awesome, hard, wonderful and beautiful,” DeHaan-Clark said. “She’s 9½ months old, and she just lost her first tooth and is starting to crawl. She says, ‘Da, Da’ a lot, even though I’m with her most of the time during the day.”

DeHaan-Clark, who turned 34 last month, married in 2012. She and her husband had aspirations to raise a family.

Unfortunately, the road to parenthood was more difficult than they envisioned.

“We tried to get pregnant for six years,” DeHaan-Clark said. “We went through a lot of testing and different fertility procedures, but nothing took. We never had one positive pregnancy test.”

Although disappointed and frustrated, the Clarks pursued another avenue.

“Adoption was always in the back of our mind, and it came to a point where I didn’t know what to do,” DeHaan-Clark said. “One night we prayed to God for clarity and wisdom and just some direction. He answered that prayer the next morning with a text message, and that put us on a fast track to adoption.”

Grandville basketballThe Clarks went through the application process last June. Four months later, Bradley was born. She officially became a Clark in May.

“It was awesome for God to answer that prayer so quickly,” DeHaan-Clark said. “After six years of struggle, she was meant to be in our family. We love her so much and adore her to pieces.

“She’s loved by so many, and we are very thankful that the birth family chose us. After all that pain and suffering, God made something beautiful through that.”

DeHaan-Clark was a four-year towering presence at Grandville. As a junior in 2004, she set the MHSAA record for blocks in a single season with 236 and averaged nearly a triple-double (27 points, 13 rebounds and 9.5 blocks per game).

As a senior, she helped lead the Bulldogs to a 25-2 record and their first Class A Semifinal appearance. She was named the 2005 Miss Basketball Award winner by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan.

DeHaan-Clark grew six inches during middle school and entered her high school freshman year at 6-foot-6. She was 6-9 as a senior before taking her talents to East Lansing.

“Middle school was tough for everyone, but it was extremely tough for me,” DeHaan-Clark said. “I was entering a new school system, and I had just started playing basketball a year or two before that and had a huge growth spurt. Learning how to be coordinated and play the game took a while.”

DeHaan-Clark was a part of three consecutive Ottawa-Kent Conference Red championship teams. The Bulldogs won District and Regional titles in 2005 before defeating previously-unbeaten Benton Harbor in a Class A Quarterfinal. Grandville’s run ended with an overtime loss to Southfield-Lathrup in the Semifinal at Breslin Center.

“My senior year was the best,” DeHaan-Clark said. “It was so much fun with the championships and all the wins. Playing with the same girls for four years and then finally having a successful team was amazing.”

DeHaan-Clark made the MHSAA’s single-season scoring list as a senior with 710 points, having averaged 26.3 per game that fall. She also finished with 718 career blocks, setting an MHSAA record later broken by Kalamazoo Central’s Asia Robeson (723) in 2014. Still, DeHaan-Clark remains seventh all-time nationally for career blocks, with Robeson sixth on the list.

DeHaan-Clark arrived at Michigan State with high aspirations.

“I had big goals of playing in the Olympics and playing professionally, but obviously those didn’t come to fruition,” she said. “I learned to dream big, so I set big goals from the beginning.”

DeHaan-Clark emerged as a dominating shot blocker for the Spartans, and was Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2006-07 as she set the conference record with 145 blocks.

As a sophomore she re-established the Big Ten record for single-season blocks with 150. She was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year as a senior in 2009-10.

She ended her career as Michigan State’s all-time blocks leader with 503 – with that total also second in Division I history at that time and now third on the NCAA DI list – to go with career averages of 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

“It was a big transition from high school to college, but I wanted to be a contributor,” DeHaan-Clark said. “I had amazing coaches and teammates, and my freshman year turned out better than I thought it would.

“My big goal was to be a key defensive player and break as many records as I could with blocked shots because of my height.”

In 2009, DeHaan-Clark was the catalyst in Michigan State’s run to the Sweet 16. The Spartans upset top-ranked Duke in the second round before losing to Iowa State, 69-68.

But DeHaan-Clark suffered a back injury during the Big Ten Tournament that winter which ultimately ended her hopes of playing beyond college.

“I never recovered from that, so I didn’t enter the WNBA draft,” DeHaan-Clark said. “I ended up having back surgery and finished my remaining classes before graduating.”

DeHaan-Clark returned home and worked in the medical field while also helping lead a sports ministry program at Grand Valley State University.

Grandville basketballShe received an intriguing opportunity to continue playing college sports as part of the Lakers volleyball program.

“I needed to take more graduate classes, and I had one more season of college eligibility other than basketball,” she said. “My skill level wasn’t to the level of basketball, but it was still really fun to play and compete and be a part of a team because those are things I still love doing today.”

DeHaan-Clark changed her focus from medicine to continuing her work in sports ministry, as well as for a non-profit organization.

She also got her real estate license in 2015, and she and her husband began flipping houses on the side.

“It brings me a lot of joy to cast a vision of what a home could look like after a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” she said. “I love that kind of work.”

The projects allowed the Clarks to spend meaningful time together.

“It was a lot of nights and weekends, and we just had to learn things as we went,” DeHaan-Clark said. “The one thing we learned is we cannot do drywall. It’s not our skill set, so in order to save our marriage and our relationship we would hire it out.

“We did a lot of it ourselves, and we like seeing the transformation from old to new. It’s really fun, and hopefully we can do it again.”

The Clarks currently reside in Jenison and have been embraced by their community and friends. They live on a lake, enjoying water sports in their free time. Allyssa was inducted into the Grandville High School Athletic Hall of Fame in March.

As for the future, DeHaan-Clark said nothing is set in stone.

“We take it one day at a time,” she said. “I still have my real estate license, so we’re hoping to renovate and invest. I’m sure in the future there will be more kids added to the Clark clan, but right now we’re very happy and content with just one.”

2021-22 Made in Michigan

July 21: Championship Memories Still Resonate with St. Thomas Star Lillard - Read
July 14:
Portage Central Champ Rolls to Vanderbilt, Writing Next Chapter in Alabama - Read
July 12: Coaching Couple Passing On Knowledge, Providing Opportunities for Frankfort Wrestlers - Read
June 30: Hrynewich's Star Continuing to Rise with Olympic, Pro Sports Arrivals - Read

PHOTOS (Top) At left, Allyssa DeHaan puts up a shot during Grandville’s 2005 Class A Semifinal against Southfield-Lathrup. At right, the Clark family including Allyssa, husband Aaron Clark and daughter Bradley. (Middle) DeHaan looks for an open teammate while playing her high school finale at her future college home, the Breslin Center. (Below) The Clarks enjoy a moment together. (Basketball photos from MHSAA archives; Clark photos courtesy of Allyssa DeHaan-Clark.)

Team of the Month: West Bloomfield Girls Basketball

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

April 14, 2022

One of the compelling moments of this season’s Girls Basketball Finals at Michigan State’s Breslin Center came just after the final buzzer of the Division 1 championship game.

As his players rushed each other to celebrate midcourt, West Bloomfield coach Darrin McAllister first leaned forward, hands just above his knees, before moving down into a crouch, head dipped to his chest, obviously breaking down a bit in joy at what his Lakers had just completed.

McCallister had played college football and helped Wayne State’s women’s basketball program to multiple NCAA Sweet 16 appearances as an assistant coach. But what the Lakers did last month – finish reeling off 25 straight wins with their first MHSAA Finals girls basketball championship – made his “Mount Rushmore,” if not much more.

“This is probably at the top,” he said this week, after a month of the experience settling in. “Because I knew the sacrifices that these players made, I knew the sacrifices that the coaches and the parents made, and then for (our players) to speak it into existence that they want to win a state championship, it’s great.”

It was not as easy as the Lakers – the MHSAA/Applebee’s “Team of the Month” for March – frequently made it appear.

Yes, West Bloomfield’s players said on their first day of practice Nov. 12 that they planned on winning the Division 1 championship. And that seemed like a logical goal for a team that eventually will send at least four players to Division I college programs and had won a league title and finished 10-3 during the COVID-interrupted 2020-21 season.

But the Lakers also entered the preseason having graduated five players from that team and with a young but talented lineup needing to learn how to be cohesive and efficient in their roles. Add in that McAllister got a late start, taking over the program after all of the summer training and majority of preseason prep were done.

West Bloomfield lost its season opener 59-46 to Dexter (which would go on to finish 19-3). But a week later, the Lakers started to show what they could do in coming back from a 19-point deficit to defeat Illinois power Bolingbrook 48-47.

Just before the midpoint of the regular season, McAllister could see things taking shape.

“We had talented players, but they were young. So we kinda started it all over and identified our identity,” he said. “Every had to establish their roles and buy into their roles, so it wasn’t easy. I think for me, it makes me more appreciative and makes me enjoy this experience more than anything else.”

Along the way, West Bloomfield repeated as Oakland Activities Association Red champion. Two weeks before the start of the playoffs, the Lakers also accomplished what for a few seasons had seemed unthinkable to most – hand Detroit Edison a 65-62 loss, the Pioneers’ first to an in-state opponent since 2017-18 and after Edison had defeated West Bloomfield by nine and 28 points the season before.

Perhaps the least surprised were the Lakers, who had started believing they could defeat Edison after the Bolingbrook win. They also believed they could compete with every other team as well – and they would continue impressing with a championship run that included wins over Bloomfield Hills Marian (15-7), Farmington Hills Mercy (18-5), Grosse Pointe North (18-6), Troy (13-12), Rockford (23-3) in the Semifinal and Hartland (25-2) in the championship game.

The pair of wins at Breslin showed what West Bloomfield has transformed into this winter. In defeating the Rams 66-63, the Lakers received double-digit scoring from four players – led by sophomore twins Indya Davis with 24 points and Summer Davis with 16 and six assists – with junior Sydney Hendrix posting a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds and guard Myonna Hooper setting the high-energy tone along with scoring 14 points. At the same time, senior center Zaneiya Batiste didn’t score and shot only twice – but grabbed nine rebounds, nearly the difference in the Lakers’ rebounding edge.

West Bloomfield defeated Hartland 51-42 with Indya Davis and Hendrix both posting double doubles, Summer Davis again dishing six assists, Hooper again energetically chipping in and Batiste again helping out big on the boards. In both games, sophomores Destiny Washington and Kendall Hendrix came off the bench to provide valuable minutes.

“March was the month everything came together,” McAllister said. “At the end of the (championship) game, I shed tears because it was emotional seeing it come together.”

West Bloomfield felt like it was just trying to catch up much of the season due to McAllister’s taking over late. But now, with five of this season’s top seven players coming back next year, it also feels like the Lakers are just getting started.

“Now I’m excited and looking forward to our offseason,” McCallister said. “I can’t wait to get the players in June and start getting workouts in and going to team camps, because I know that’s only going to make us better for the upcoming season.”

Past Teams of the Month, 2021-22 

February: Cadillac girls skiing - Read
January:
Hartland hockey - Read
December:
Midland Dow girls basketball - Read
November:
Reese girls volleyball - Read
October:
Birmingham Groves boys tennis - Read