Clarence  Wiggins's Memorial

Clarence Wiggins
(1956 - 2014)


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General Details

Name: Mr Clarence Wiggins
Gender: Male
Age: 58 years old
Lived: Friday, 21 December 1956 - Monday, 29 December 2014

My Story

Born in North Carolina, it was an out of the blue transatlantic telephone call in August of 1983 which completely transformed Clarence’s life in a way neither he nor his family could possibly have imagined.

Two months later, the 6’5” forward had made the journey to the UK, to join the fledgling City of Derby Basketball club. In the thirty-one years which followed, Wiggins touched the lives of thousands of local people through his work as a player, coach and PE Teacher at Noel-Baker School.

Ever since the news broke late on Monday afternoon, tributes have been pouring in via the club’s official Facebook page and via a special page, set up in his memory.

Wiggins was recommended to the club by another American, 5’11” point guard Dave Smith, who also hailed from North Carolina and who had moved to Derby the previous month. Both players were recruited by Coach Chris Squire, who was among the first to pay tribute to a most remarkable man:

“Clarence was unbelievably respected and loved throughout the basketball community and further afield. He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and I think anyone whose life he touched would think likewise.

"We are all deeply shocked. It’s just a tremendous loss to the game, to the school, to all those who’ve been close to him and of course to his wife CJ.

“I was Head Coach here in 1983, which was the first year we played big time national league here in Derby. I had one American from Methodist College in North Carolina and I was looking for a second one and I was told Clarence might be available.

“I called him and the first thing I had to do was to convince him not to call me Sir! We flew him over in October 1983 and the rest is history. He was just a great player and I think the greatest compliment I can pay him is that he was a truly great teacher of the game,” he said.

Wiggins became a successful player for Derby during their first three seasons of existence. After a year away with Cleveland, the teaching aspect referred to by Squire was put to the test for the first time, when he was asked to become player-coach for Derby’s second season in what subsequently became the BBL.

By this time, he had found work as a teacher at Noel-Baker school, where Squire is now a coach at the Derby Basketball Academy. He says pupils at the school had a tremendous respect for Wiggins, regardless of whether they had been taught by him or not:

“The kids just loved him. Whether you were one of his students or one of his players, everybody’s opinions about him were the same. He made school life fun and he had an uncanny way of making people believe in their own ability and by doing so, to achieve more than they believed was possible,” he said.

Over the next two decades, the City of Derby basketball club underwent many changes of name and even ownership, but Wiggins remained a constant factor. He combined several playing spells with work as a coach at various levels both at the club and within the school.

When the professional club decided to withdraw their junior programme, Clarence and a few like-minded individuals joined forces to launch the Trailblazers, desperate to ensure local youngsters didn't lose out. Following the demise of the professional club, the club added a men’s section, with Wiggins as at its helm as player-coach.

Over the next few years, the Trailblazers won the league titles at division three, division two and finally division one levels, after which Wiggins finally retired as senior coach, to once again concentrate his efforts on junior development.

He continued his work in this area right up until his death, with around 70-80 youngsters aged between five and thirteen years old attending mini’s training each Saturday morning.

Former City of Derby Basketball Club Director Martin Shaw said like many people, he had been left devastated by the news.

“I think it’s the same for everyone who knew Clarence and for the thousands who were taught by him. He had such an influence on people’s lives and I don’t believe that influence will stop.

The nature of the guy is that he’s developed a strategy that people are using every day to teach basketball and coach basketball within the club and within the school.

“He will be greatly missed both as a coach and teacher but perhaps more importantly, many young and not so young people will also miss him as a friend, a character and as an inspirational person. We were all devastated by the news and want to offer our sincere condolences to his wife CJ and both families," he said.

RIP Clarence. You and your smile and your incredible belief in those around you will never be forgotten by anyone who knew you.

Latest Tributes

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Flower Memorial Tribute
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we will all miss you good bye and may you rest in peace my sweet angle xx
Comment Memorial Tribute
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R.I.P Mr Wiggins you was a wonderful P.E teacher and i hope you know that you was to even though we was a pain in you...
Heart Memorial Tribute
From: kieraatkin
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r.i.p mr wiggins


Country of Birth: USA
Occupation: Education & Training
Marital Status: Married


Favourite Sport: Basketball


Date of Passing: 29 December 2014
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