Jim Clark can still remember the phone call which brought him back to South Texas.

It was back in 1991 and Clark was at Lockney High, School north of Lubbock. Before coaching up in the Panhandle, Clark had a 13-year stay at Bishop High School, so he was familiar with this region.

On the other end of the phone call that day was Van Tom Whatley. who had just landed the Alice job.

“Van Tom called one day and he asked  ‘Are you ready to go back to South Texas?’” Clark recalled. “I asked him where we were going and he said Alice. I said, ‘I’m in!’ For me, it was just a great honor to have an opportunity to be a coach in a school district like Alice’s which always had a very strong program and outstanding community support.”

Never one of those coaches who liked moving, Clark was at Alice High School 19 years. He sincerely liked the district and the community so much that after he retired in 2010, Clark and his wife, Judith, called Alice until May of last year.

In all, Clark’s coaching career spanned 38 years, and a total of 32 were spent between Alice and Bishop. Clark said the two communities and school districts are a lot alike in that they’re traditionally successful and are blessed with unwavering community support.

“In all the places I’ve been, there are only two schools like that,” Clark said. “One is Bishop and the other is Alice.”

Now the area he and his family called home for so long is honoring the longtime coach. Clark was one of a handful of coaches who were inducted into the Coastal Bend Coaches Association Hall of Honor. The annual Coastal Bend Coaches Association Coaches Clinic was Friday and Saturday in Corpus Christi. The CBCA Hall of Honor induction was Saturday at W.B. Ray High School in Corpus Christi.

Clark, 71, said he was stunned when CBCA organizer Bill Rhyne notified him about being selected to the Hall of Honor.

“I could not believe it,” Clark said. “It was totally unexpected. I mean, I was speechless. Just to be recognized or even considered…. it’s great. I’ve always looked at the coaches that are in the hall of honor with high regard. I mean, they were the ultimate. To have the opportunity to join a group like that is just phenomenal. There aren’t enough words to explain.”

However, coaches who worked closely with Clark throughout his career said he is more than worthy of the honor and instrumental in making teams successful.

“All I can say is thank God for coach Clark,” said Whatley, who made Clark his assistant head coach and assistant athletic director during his time in Alice. “Coach Clark really took a lot of pressure off me and allowed me to coach, and that makes a big difference. He was the type of coach that if you asked him to do something, he always did it right and the way it should be done.”

Whatley also described Clark and one of the most likable people he ever met in the coaching profession.

“In my life, I’ve only met two people who everyone instantly liked when they meet them,” Whatley said. “One is my wife, Cindy, and the other is coach Clark.”

Clark, who was raised on a small farm in Goodnight, Texas, graduated from Claude High School in 1966. After high school, he married his childhood sweetheart Judith Kay Walls.

Clark attended Clarendon Junior College for a year and then he followed his old high school coach, F.G. Crofford, to Wayland Baptist College in Plainview where he ran cross country and track.

After graduation, he began working at Quanah where he coached seventh-grade athletics. From there, Clark was hired in Bishop in 1974. He eventually became the head coach and athletic director at Bishop from 1980 to 1987.

Clark later coached at Lockney from 1987 to 1991. There he was selected as the South Plains 2A Coach of the year in 1991 before moving to Alice. Clark was Alice’s assistant head coach and athletic director. He also led the program from 2002 and 2003.

Retirement has taken Clark and his wife to Amarillo to live closer to family. Living there also puts him just 19 miles from Claude High School where he went to school and allows him to play golf once a week with his former head coach, who is now 91.