Rick Clark’s illustrious coaching career came to a close when the York High School girls basketball team captured the 2016 Maine Class A state championship. For two of his star players, the game served as the springboard to successful first seasons in NCAA Division I athletics.
Former Wildcats Shannon Todd and Lily Posternak are making their mark at Northeastern University and Duke University, respectively.
“It’s always been fun to watch kids that I’ve had go to the next level and play and such a high level in both of their cases,” said Clark, whose teams won 509 games. “For both of them it’s not just the talent. It’s the fact that they have the right attitude and the passion for what they were doing and I knew with the right direction they would blossom in college.
Todd, a sophomore at Northeastern, started 22 of 23 games last season for the Huskies women’s basketball team. Her efforts included a 19-point outburst against Wichita State. She said that being trusted with a starting role was a “big confidence booster.”
The 5-foot-10 guard is continuing to make the transition from being expected to carry the team, as she did at York, to understanding her role as a “tweener” between shooting guard and small forward while improving her individual skills, both basketball and mental.
“I want to be a more efficient shooter and be a more of a presence on both ends of the floor,” Todd said.
She is thankful for the opportunity to play significant minutes as a freshman.
“It’s good to be in the position I’m in. I get to do the things I’m best at,” Todd said. “I’m expected to do those things. It’s really nice to pick up my role and nothing else other than what I am expected to do.”
Niki Taylor, a former York star and Vermont Catamount, served as the inspiration for Todd, proving to her that she could get to the same level of basketball.
“Seeing her [play] kind of set the seed in my mind that I could [play Division I],” Todd said.
Playing with another future Division I athlete did not hurt, either.
Todd was a senior when the Wildcats captured the state title in 2016. Teammate Lily Posternak, then a junior, started on the team. The two exchange text messages regularly and watch bits of each other’s games throughout the year.
Posternak is a freshman at Duke, where she competes for the No. 2-ranked field hockey program. The Blue Devils are a perennial powerhouse. Posternak has stepped in and taken on an important role.
She plays midfield for the Blue Devils and started their first four games. Posternak has yet to register a point but plays significant minutes.
“It’s an amazing experience and I’m very fortunate to come from such an amazing high school program,” Posternak said. “I am so lucky to be with such amazing players who are so supportive and are always helping me step up my game.”
Both Todd and Posternak relished their time together on the court. For Todd, Posternak brought “a different perspective” to the team along with “a winning mentality and competitiveness”. Posternak’s field hockey skills translated into a quality playmaking and defensive role in high school.
Todd said it was awesome to play basketball with Posternak.
Sharing the court with Todd aided Posternak to understand the commitment of getting to the next level.
“Our favorite sports are different, but we’ve been down similar tracks,” Posternak said. “Having someone who has gone through it all coming from a different perspective is really nice to have.”
“I’m a huge Shannon Todd fan, it’s really cool to see her succeeding at something she loves,” Posternak said.
Clark appreciates the successes of his former stars in the newest chapter of their lives.
“The joy in watching someone doing something they really want to do at a very high level, pride is a part of that,” Clark said. “I have a great deal of pride in watching their success and hoping for the best for them.”
Greg Levinsky of Portland is a 2016 Deering High School graduate who is majoring in journalism at Boston University, where he writes for the Daily Free Press, the school’s student news organization.