Tamia Clardy steps into Jet Sports Training two to three times a week at 5:45 a.m. to strengthen her body and sharpen her character, which is already the stuff of what coaches want.
The Tucson High School junior begins some of her days waking before 5 a.m. and driving from her family’s Marana home to the Jet Sports Training facility on the southside.
“I like to get up in the morning,” she said with a smile. “I’d rather work out in the morning. It’s good to start my day early. I’m able to go home, eat breakfast, go to school and I have workouts the same day and basketball practice later in the evening.
“It keeps me grounded.”
Academics fit into her bustling schedule. She is an honor student who someday wants to get in the medicine field and become an anesthesiologist.
She gets her sense of direction from her parents.
Clardy’s father Tommie is a well-known barber in Tucson who has worked his craft for more than 30 years, first employed at the legendary Al’s Barbershop on Grant and then owning his own place, Tommie’s Barber-Beauty on Speedway.
Tommie’s business draws local athletes, coaches and dignitaries from different industries.
“Growing up I was able to go to the barbershop and meet people with my talking skills,” she said. “I was able to meet people and talk and just be able to be around people. … It’s great seeing athletes from NBA, NFL, women, everything. You see everything. It’s great exposure.”
Tamia’s dad and mom, Adora, parent her in different ways. Tommie’s role is more as a coach while Adora is the psychologist who helps with social matters a 17-year-old girl might face.
“My wife puts in a lot of time with her; I’m the dad, I have a different role,” Tommie said. “My wife does all the dirty work.”
Tommie added that Tucson assistant coach Greta Naranjo, a former Arizona standout and Pima coach, is like a “second mom” to Tamia who “really helps her development.”
No challenge seems too daunting because of the discipline Tamia has observed from others, including her brother Tommy Clardy, a former standout receiver at Sunnyside who now works as a special education teacher.
Tommy was a Blue Devil teammate of Jet Sports Training owner Bobby Rodriguez and manager Jose Felix.
The Jet Sports Training facility often includes kids as young as 8 years old exercising, which motivates Tamia to be there.
“I’ve been able to get leadership, agility,” she said when asked about her training experience there. “I used to work with youths (in camps). It’s good to see younger kids grow up and see myself working with my peers and be able to express ourselves.”
Tamia expresses herself athletically on the basketball court, emerging as one of the top Class of 2022 guards from Southern Arizona.
An AllSportsTucson.com All-6A Conference first-team selection last season, she puts the time and effort into her skills driving with her dad to Phoenix on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school to practice with her club team, the Southwest Stars.
“It’s our quality time together,” Tommie said. “She usually takes a nap on the way up there and then on our way back we talk about business. She’s almost a senior. In three more weeks, she’ll be a senior. We cherish that time together.”
The numerous days of traveling to Phoenix have more meaning this year as opposed to last when COVID-19 greatly impacted the AAU summer circuit.
Tamia played in tournaments in Denver and Atlanta last year but not until September, without college coaches in attendance.
This time around, Tamia will play with the Southwest Stars Elite Premier team that will include five players from overseas. The schedule will be similar to pre-COVID-19 with games in June and July with college recruiters slated to be in attendance.
“We’re all trying to get looked at; hopefully, some of us will get scholarships,” Tamia said of her club teammates. “Last summer, we weren’t able to go to any tournaments, any viewing tournaments, no college coaches were able to text us or talk to us.
“It was a big setback for us. Now it’s time to really grind and get to it.”
In 42 career games as a sophomore and junior at Tucson, Tamia is averaging 6.0 points and 1.8 steals per game while playing an average of 17.7 minutes a game. Her minutes figure to increase as a senior, opening more scoring opportunities and defensive chances to build on her 76 steals.
She mentioned the agility drills at Jet Sports Training the last two to three years have improved her side-to-side motion on defense. Her quickness as she collapses to the post enables her to get a bulk of her steals against slower frontcourt players.
Tamia believes her greatest opportunity as a point guard is leading her team and generating offense.
“I’ve learned that you have to be a leader,” Tamia said. “If you want your position and you want to go far, you need to be a leader and you need step up to any occasion, go to camps, go to other states, go to every practice and set yourself apart from everybody else.”
Her goal is to attend an HBCU (historically black colleges and university) and work toward a degree and a PhD.
Tommie said his daughter has drawn interest from Howard, WInston-Salem State and Tennessee State.
“My daughter has her own mind; she knows what she wants,” Tommie said. “She’s become open-minded because she knows how the business of basketball and being a student-athlete gets. With the girls she has playing with her now (with the Southwest Stars), things are going to change for her a lot.”
Tamia wants to attend an HBCU because she has “always loved her culture.”
After her basketball career comes to an end and she is flourishing in the medical field as an anesthesiologist, she hopes that example will impact youths in Southern Arizona.
Those 5:45 a.m. strenuous workouts and weekly drives to Phoenix as a high school junior will play a significant part in achieving her goals later in life.
“It’s good to be a leader for our community especially because you see a lot of people come from Tucson and go big,” she said. “I want to be that person to show kids that you can go anywhere, it doesn’t matter what college you go to, DI, DII or HBCU … it doesn’t matter. You can do it, regardless.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District