The Wolverine

January 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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60 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2019 BY JOHN BORTON K rista Clement's grand- mother used to prompt one of the smallest St. Ignace residents with the inquiry: "Krista, are you being a helper-helper girl?" Grandma, the answer is yes. She still is, and in a way that touches lives across the nation. The founder and CEO of Helper Helper, Clement heads an organization that assists volunteers in connecting with community needs, in schools, hospitals and other outlets. The web-based enterprise uses an app Clement created, the effort driven by her own family values and leadership honed as a Michigan basket- ball player from 2004-08. It didn't have to be Michi- gan for Clement, the 2003 Miss Basketball from LaSalle High, just on the Upper Peninsula side of the Mackinac Bridge. Or maybe it did. To this day, her family laughs about her recruitment. Let's just say she needed to be brought up to speed on some of the finer points of University of Michigan athletics history. Barry Pierson — another St. Ignace resident and one of the stalwarts of Michigan's iconic 1969 football upset of Ohio State — is a family friend. "I was really good friends with his boys growing up," Clement recalled. "I remember coming into the house, and his youngest son, Zach, was blar- ing the Michigan fight song, wear- ing all of his Michigan gear and just dancing around the house." She'd scored 2,060 points and led a 99-5 squad in high school, and soon heard from another former football great. Katie Dierdorf had committed to coach Cheryl Burnett, and Clem- ent received a friendly phone call. "My mom said, 'Krista, you've got a phone call. Dan Dierdorf is on the phone,'" she recounted. "I said, 'Who?' "He was talking away, and I had no idea who he was. I'm thinking some girl's dad wants me to come to Michigan." That girl eventually became Clem- ent's roommate, and Clement like a "second daughter" to the Dierdorfs. But not before the talented basketball player further enhanced her educa- tion regarding Michigan. Pierson took her to Ann Arbor for a visit, showing her old haunts from his student days. He also set up a visit to Schembechler Hall for a meet- ing with the man whose name is on the building. "I'm sitting in the meeting, and he asked, 'What are your choices?'" Clement noted. "I said, 'Michigan, Michigan State, and I'm thinking about Marquette.' "He said, 'Well, this is easy!' I called my mom and told her, 'I just got out of this meeting with this Schembechler guy, and he really wants me to come to Michigan.' She says, 'Bo Schem- bechler?' and I said, 'Yeah, I think so.' "She says, 'Oh, wow, Krista. You're getting really nice treatment, and you have no idea.' Ka- tie was obviously close with Bo, because Mr. Dierdorf had played for him. So I got to meet him again after I committed." What resonated with the prep star involved Ann Arbor being close enough that her parents could see her play — and they did, rarely missing a game, home or away. Also, athletics director Bill Martin pointed out that she'd be sur- rounded by Olympians and champions of all sorts. "There was a sense of com- munity and pride across all of the teams that I thought was really special," Clement said. "I felt I needed to be part of that." Clement came in as part of a seven-person class, a youth movement under a coaching regime that had been at Michi- gan only a year. She certainly didn't get lost in the shuffle. In fact, she stood out so much in pre-season workouts that her teammates accorded her a special honor going into her rookie year. "I love group workouts, and it was my arena to be bossy," Clement said, with a laugh. "When it came down to the fall, the team voted me as one of the captains. It was me and our two seniors." Clement served as a captain in each of her four seasons at Michi- gan. While they struggled on the court until going 20-14 and making the WNIT quarterfinals in her senior season under new coach Kevin Bors- eth, Clement embraced the constant battles to improve in all areas. "I remember the excitement of the challenge," she said. "We're going to practice four hours a day, then we're going to wake up and do weights, we're going to go to study hall, and we'll be living on our own." She distinctly recalls Michigan's 64-55 win over Michigan State in her senior season. The Spartans were always a formidable foe, and the Crisler crowd included no lack of Clement supporters.   WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Krista Clement Takes Assists Up A Notch Clement was a four-year captain for the women's basketball team, played in 111 games and started 57 during her career, and helped lead the Wolverines to the WNIT quarterfinals as a senior. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETIC MEDIA RELATIONS

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