At first reluctant, Shelton's Clarissa Pierre becomes basketball standout

Clarissa Pierre began playing basketball in middle school. Last season she was an All-League selection.

Clarissa Pierre began playing basketball in middle school. Last season she was an All-League selection.

Shelton High Athletics / Contributed photo

SHELTON - Clarissa Pierre has a lot on her plate, but that’s because Shelton’s multi-sport student athlete can’t say no. Or, maybe it’s because when challenged she answers the call.

“It isn’t like I say I need this or that, but I try to work hard at everything I do,” said Pierre, Senior class president, a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society all while starring in volleyball, basketball and track.

“It is kind of hard, but I love being class president, I love playing sports. To find time to balance it I do homework during school because I won’t have the time once I get home.”

Waiting at home are mom Erica, dad Russell, and sister Chloe, who along with brother Christian have fueled her desire to compete.

“I got my love for volleyball from my dad because he played it while growing up in Barbados and my brother Christian played basketball, so it came natural to me,” Pierre said. “They love me playing sports and Chloe is a big part of my athletic career, coming to every game and cheering me on.”

That doesn’t mean Pierre didn’t need a little prodding before picking up a basketball.

“I was friends with Devan Wildman (fellow captain this season). Her dad Coach Augie called me one day and told me ‘You are playing basketball’ so I said okay,” Pierre stated. “It was in 7th/8th grade and my brother kind of pushed me to stick with it. I love it now.”

Fast forward to last season when the 5-foot-11 Pierre averaged 13.4 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.4 blocks to earn first-team All-Southern Connecticut Conference honors. She had 9 double-doubles in leading Shelton to a 19-win season.

Coach Joe Cavallaro said: “Because she started playing late, Clarissa was behind as a freshman. Right from the beginning though, she worked hard to get better. She went from a point or two as freshman, to maybe 5 points as sophomore. Last year, well that was quite an accomplishment for someone who also has a 4.0 grade point average. She practices so hard all the time and is a quiet leader.”

Pierre believes the chemistry generated through playing sports is important.

“I love the community (of spirit) that comes with playing sports,” she said. “I’ve created a great bond with everyone that has been on my teams in volleyball, basketball and track. I love all of them. It is great being a student athlete at Shelton.”

Fulfilling her duties as class president has been difficult due to the stop-and-start school year caused by the pandemic.

“I have Zoom meetings with Principal Kathy Riddle or before practice I’ll stop in and we’ll talk. Sometimes I pop in during lunch,” Pierre said. “At the beginning of year school was every other day, now students A-L and M-Z have separate schedules. I go in Wednesday and Friday and the rest is online.”

Traveling with her family has become so ingrained that Pierre wants to do more of it in the future.

“I’m leaning toward Northeastern, and I’m on the waiting list at UNC-Chapel Hill and I’d really love to go there,” Pierre said. “Both have international affairs on a pre-law track major that I want. Hopefully, I’ll get my law degree and be an international lawyer. My mom travels for her job and I’d love it.”

Pierre understands the challenges that will come this season.

“I didn’t think we were going to have a season, but now that it is possible it is great to be back,” she said. “Wearing a mask in volleyball has helped me these first few practices. There were no pizza party during volleyball with COVID-19 but we had the mini-jokes on the court which was like being at a party.

“A lot of us have been playing together since middle school. It is great on the court because we know what we are going to do. I get a look from them and I know what they are going to do.”

That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a missed step over the years. When asked about her most memorable moment, Pierre laughed.

“I have the funniest moment,” she said. “Me and Keira O’Connor (third captain) messed up a play and I almost shot the ball into the wrong basket. At the time I wasn’t laughing but looking back we say to each other ‘how did that happen.’”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354