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Leaders for Life program features former Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs


COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A four-time Olympian and a highly sought-after motivational and inspirational speaker, Joetta Clark Diggs will be the guest speaker at the Dr. M. Dianne Murphy Leaders for Life program at Tennessee Tech University Wednesday. She will address Tech's female student-athletes, and the event is also open to the public.

The event is scheduled for 7 p.m., Wednesday in the Don Ervin Auditorium of Johnson Hall on the TTU campus. Admission is free.

Joetta Clark Diggs has been running for more than 28 consecutive years, never missing an indoor or outdoor season, with her races being in the 800 and 1500 meters. An Olympian in 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000, Joetta Clark Diggs has displayed more consistency and longevity than any other American half-miler. She has competed in every outdoor USA Championship or Olympic Trials since 1979, winning five of the last eight. Indoors, she has been in the national championship race in 18 of the last 19 years. Not surprisingly, Clark Diggs has ranked among the top 10 Americans for 21 years now. Clark Diggs has been ranked in the top 10 in the world since 1991. Moreover, in 1997 at age 37, she was ranked number four in the world. This was her best ranking.

A highly sought-after motivational and inspiration speaker, and the daughter of Jetta Clark and noted educator Dr. Joe Clark, the subject of the movie, “Lean on Me”, Joetta has continued to use her extraordinary talents and unique experiences in sports, marketing, consulting and public speaking to provide services to her community, state and nation. As President of Joetta Sports & Beyond, LLC, Joetta delivers messages of health, fitness and empowerment to corporations, colleges, medical programs and civic organizations. She is the author of Joetta’s “P” Principles for Success, “Life Lessons Learned From Track & Field” and the Executive Director of the Joetta Clark Diggs Sports Foundation, which promotes involvement with physical activities for school-aged children and provides opportunities for children in the sports and entertainment industry.

“There’s a burning desire that I have to be the best. There came a point in time where the older I got the younger people, you would think, would push me aside. But their work ethics were a little different. We have a different work ethic and we take better care of our bodies; therefore we stay around. I’ve been healthy. I’ve never missed a season. I look at it as a sport even though people look at it as a business. The business aspect will come if you perform well.”

Coached by Terry Crawford at the University of Tennessee, Clark Diggs left Knoxville with nine collegiate titles (including relays) and a degree in public relations. Later she added a graduate degree in recreation administration. Like her father, she works the lecture circuit. Clark Diggs is currently coached by her brother, J.J. Clark, who is the women’s coach at the University of Florida. J.J. also coaches two other 800m runners: his wife, Jearl Miles-Clark, and his younger sister, Hazel Clark. Hazel is the best collegiate 800m runner, and Jearl and Joetta are ranked #1 and #2 in America, respectively. This Clark Team is known as the First Family of Track & Field because of their 800m dominance.

Married to Ronald Diggs on September 24, 1999, Clark Diggs believes that, “There will be time for marriage, but the most important thing is to be independent and responsible.” She explains, “When I speak [to young audiences], a lot of the girls think that they are nothing without a guy. I tell them they can accomplish a lot being single, and when the time comes for them to get married, they’ll know about it.”

Joetta is not just a runner. In June of 1997, she was appointed by a Governor as one of eight commissioners of the New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority, where she is responsible for helping to ensure that the Meadowlands Sports Complex continues to serve as a national and international model for sports, racing entertainment and exposition industries.

Joetta was chosen as Sports Illustrated Hometown Hero for her work with youth, and in 1998 she also received the Visa Humanitarian award for her involvement with children. In October, Clark Diggs received the New Jersey Pioneer Women of the 90’s Award. Moreover, because of her longevity, and consistency, she is considered by sports enthusiasts as “America’s most successful middle distance runner” ever.

Dr. M. Dianne Murphy Leaders for Life Program

Each semester, Tennessee Tech University Athletics hosts an event as part of the Dr. M. Dianne Murphy Leaders for Life program, inviting distinguished guests to speak to all TTU female student-athletes, along with faculty and community members, on the role of successful women in athletics. The establishment of this lecture series has been made possible by a generous gift to Tennessee Tech Athletics by one of our alumni, Dr. M. Dianne Murphy, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education at Columbia University in New York City.