July 1, 2022 

“Once a Spider, always a Spider”

Jaide Hinds-Clarke continues making an impact on Richmond Athletics by building connections and serving as a role model and ambassador.

In 2016 Jaide Hinds-Clarke left Westwood, N.J., traveled to the University of Richmond and didn’t look back. 

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The four-year women’s basketball student-athlete graduated with her bachelor’s degree in sociology and leadership with a minor in women, gender and sexuality studies from Richmond in 2020. While she obtained a master’s of sport leadership from VCU she served as a graduate assistant in the Spiders Leadership Development program just a few miles away at Richmond.  

Since July 1, 2021, Hinds-Clarke has served as coordinator of student-athlete leadership development & engagement at Richmond. She described her role as helping “student-athletes learn about effective ways to connect what they do with leadership in the classroom, on and off the field, and in the community.”

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Hinds-Clarke focuses on the holistic student-athlete experience and how it can be enhanced in the classroom, on their teams and in the community, helping to identify and tap into what they are passionate about. She noted that one of the best parts of her job is connecting with student-athletes. 

“When I’m able to have a one-on-one conversation with the student-athlete and really kind of hone in on what it is they’re passionate about and point them in the right direction, whether that’s a student organization that they can be a part of, whether it’s a community service project that they want to work on, or whether it’s just figuring out what their leadership looks like, on their team for them,” she told The Next

Lauren Wicklund, senior associate athletic director for leadership & student-athlete development, believes the relationships Hinds-Clarke has developed and the mentorship she has taken on with student-athletes is the biggest thing she has accomplished in her first year on the job. 

Wicklund also noted that Hinds-Clarke helps and advises student groups, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and worked with the Student Center for Equity and Inclusion as well as LGBTQ groups on campus. 

“I think just the relationships she’s built with the students in those different areas to make sure they are heard and make sure they feel valued and have a really good experience here is probably the thing that she’s done the most at so far,” Wicklund told The Next.

As a student-athlete, Hinds-Clarke remembers a lot of people looking out for her and pointing her in the right direction based on what she was passionate about and interested in. She wants to continue to pass that forward because she believes she wouldn’t be the same without those that mentored and guided her during her undergraduate career. 

“I think it made me a better person being a part of some of those organizations and groups and finding ways that I could affect change and kind of display my leadership and use my leadership skills for the better,” Hinds-Clarke said.

Over the last two years, Wicklund has seen Hinds-Clarke grow from someone who helps to someone that takes ownership, comes up with ideas, and creates and runs new programs. 

Starting her professional career at Richmond is deeply personal to Hinds-Clarke as it’s the place she grew and developed for four years. 

“We always say once a Spider, always a Spider,” she said. 

Hinds-Clarke later added, “I think it’s really special to still be here and still be a Spider, at a place that I’m really comfortable with. And at a place where I have the trust of staff and student-athletes to do the work that I need to do.” 

From middle school through the end of her collegiate playing career, Hinds-Clarke wore the number ‘1’, something her middle school coach helped her pick. 

“His thought process behind that was, that I always want to aim to be number one in everything that I do,” Hinds-Clarke said. “And that doesn’t mean that I have to be the best. But it just means that I give my 100% effort each time.”

She brings that mindset, as well as positivity, with her into her current role. 

“I think it’s always kind of been a part of me to have that positive energy, work to be the best that I can, and whether that’s just, you know, beating myself that day. That’s kind of what I’m striving for.” Hinds-Clarke said.

She enjoys continuing to be around the women’s basketball team and head coach Aaron Roussell, someone she said is one of her biggest advocates. The team has familiar faces in former teammates and those that were recruited while Hinds-Clarke was a player. 

Roussell said he advocates for all of his former players and that Hinds-Clarke, who was the first to reach out after he was hired, is an easy one to advocate for. 

“You want Jaide a part of your team, you want Jaide a part of your women’s basketball team, you want her a part of your department, here in athletics,” Roussell told The Next. “I would say really, any field, any group that you’re a part of, she’s going to make that better.”

If Hinds-Clarke is around when he has recruits on campus, Roussell has her meet with them.

As a recent college graduate, Hinds-Clarke brings a unique perspective to her role. She is able to use her experience as a student-athlete to make informed decisions as well as enhance the student-athlete experience that she’s familiar with. Her experience in the shoes of a student-athlete also serves as a point of connection between herself and those that she works with. 

Her favorite event is the leadership kickoff in August which gets the student-athletes in the leadership cohort excited about what programs will be put on throughout the year. 

“Being able to get everyone in the same environment and get everyone excited about what leadership development looks like at the University of Richmond that year is really awesome,” Hinds-Clarke said. 

As a student at Richmond, Hinds-Clarke was extremely involved in the community and on campus, interning for the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, serving on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, working in the Office of Common Ground (now the Student Center for Equity and Inclusion) and founding Shades of Pride. 

As an intern for the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities Hinds-Clarke created and ran programs, which included a social justice retreat for high school students. While working for the Office of Common Ground, Hinds-Clarke assisted in the creation and administration of LGBTQ programs. Shades of Pride is an “affinity group for LGBTQ students of color” that she founded with her friend to create a space, which didn’t exist at the time, for LGBTQ people of color. 

Though Shades of Pride has since been passed on to current students, Hinds-Clarke finds it rewarding to see the organization carried on. As a student, she wanted to affect change and create a better environment for future students. 

“I think it’s nice to see that it’s still going because it’s something that we found really valuable when I was here,” Hinds-Clarke said. “And so to know that students are really finding something continually valuable is pretty important.” 

Hinds-Clarke remains involved on campus. While Roussell was showing his son the Jepson School of Leadership Studies building on campus walking back from the basketball camp Roussell was hosting, they saw Hinds-Clarke giving a presentation to an Osher Institute group.

“I think that speaks to no matter what you’re doing, you just see and feel different things that Jaide has touched on campus,” Roussell said.

Hinds-Clarke accumulated numerous awards during her time as a student at Richmond including the James A. Sartain Award for sociology, the Dr. Leonard S. Goldberg Award for Good Citizenship, and was one of two NCAA Woman of the Year nominees from Richmond in 2020. In addition, she was also awarded the 2020 Civic Engagement Award, the 2019 LGBTQ Black and Bold Award, and the 2019 Service for Change Award. 

Hinds-Clarke shined on the court as well, averaging 9.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game over the course of her career. When she graduated in 2020 she was sixth in program history in career blocks (72). 

Roussell always enjoys seeing his former players succeed and has enjoyed watching Hinds-Clarke spread her wings and blossom in front of him, literally. When Roussell walks out of his office he sees Hinds-Clarke’s office right away. 

He calls her “a true Richmond Spider student-athlete success story.” He believes that her success on and off the court makes her a role model for current women’s basketball players, as well as other student-athletes. 

“She’s been through the grind, came out and had success and now is completely killing it in her field here,” Roussell said. 

Currently, Hinds-Clarke serves on the Atlantic 10’s Commission on Racial Equity, Diversity & Inclusion where she enjoys being a thought partner, appreciates the collaboration and is a part of a group of people from the A-10 that want to enhance the student-athlete experience. 

“It’s also helped just to know what folks are doing on other campuses, and how maybe we can make that work here,” Hinds-Clarke said. “And maybe there’s something that we’re doing here that helps someone else in another one of our member schools. So it’s been really nice to have that collaboration and be a part of something even just bigger than the University of Richmond and affecting the whole conference.” 

She also serves on the advisory board of Return on Inclusion, where her mentor, Nevin Caple, is CEO. 

“Not only is it a great learning opportunity for me, as someone who is passionate about athletics and really likes to collaborate, it’s been really awesome to put our heads together to think about ways that we can impact change across the country as an advisory group,” Hinds-Clarke said. “And seeing ROI do some really great things is awesome to be a part of.”

The importance of showing up every day with a positive attitude is something basketball taught  Hinds-Clarke and something she continues to try to bring into all of her meetings. Basketball also taught her flexibility and how to adjust, something she applies when she finds new ways to do things in her current role. 

Even after finishing her undergraduate degree amidst the start of a pandemic and completing her master’s degree partially online, Hinds-Clarke remained positive and ready to join the workforce where she could impact change. 

“Covid has been hard for everyone. And I think I’ve really been passionate about finding new ways to do the work that we do here at the University of Richmond in a way that’s meaningful and still resonates,” Hinds-Clarke said. 

In the future, Hinds-Clarke looks forward to continuing to be a thought partner with the staff at Richmond, continuing to enhance Richmond, prioritizing being student-centered and continuing to bring a positive attitude to the things that she does.

“As far as student-athletes, I think one of my biggest goals is to make sure that they know that I’m here and someone that they can come to no matter what, whether it’s again, like figuring out what leadership looks like for them, I think it’s really important to be available,” Hinds-Clarke said. 

Similarly, Wicklund hopes that Hinds-Clarke continues to grow as a leader, facilitator and supporter of student-athletes. 

“She’s really going to take the lead on many of our leadership initiatives, moving forward, many of our student-athlete engagement and issues moving forward,” Wicklund said. “And then a newer thing she will be taking over is really our service initiatives to get our student-athletes out in the community and really giving back in a really meaningful way.”

Wicklund concisely summarized Hinds-Clarke’s potential moving forward, “I think the sky’s the limit for what she hopes to accomplish.”

Written by Natalie Heavren

Natalie Heavren has been a contributor to The Next since February 2019 and currently writes about the Atlantic 10 conference, the WNBA and the WBL.

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