Adam Clark ’07 aims for winter Olympics on U.S. men’s bobsled team
November 7, 2013 By Mariel Smith
sacrificed months of time with my loved ones that I cannot get
back, and in the end, I still might not make the team. That's a heavy
burden to bear, but I think Centre prepared me for this experience
by teaching me how to keep my focus on the things that actually
do matter and off the distractions."
Adam Clark ’07 and his teammates on the U.S. men's bobsled team
are working towards competition at Sochi, Russia, during the
2014 winter Olympics.
If you ask Adam Clark ’07 the path that took him to the U.S. men's bobsled team, you might be surprised by his answer. While he was active at Centre as a student-athlete, he did not grow up bobsledding or spend his college years pursuing the sport. Instead, after graduating from Centre, he pursued an engineering degree at the University of Kentucky—a seemingly unlikely beginning for a world-class athlete.
In fact, Clark may never have found out about bobsledding at all if it had not been for his Centre roommate, Jeremy Ware ’07, who shared the online recruitment page for USA Bobsled with him in 2010. Clark applied online and was invited to attend camp in the spring of 2011.
"Despite a couple of crashes, the camp went well," says Clark, "and I was invited back to try out for the team that October. I've been on the USA National Team since then."
Making the cut was just the beginning for Clark, who jumped head-on into a demanding and continuous schedule, training six days per week, often twice per day. Each year, from April to August, he trains at home; he then reports to the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., where he trains until the beginning of bobsled season in early November.
While the team normally competes for a spot at the world championship, this year, the team has its sights set on an even more prestigious competition: the winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia. In pursuit of that goal, the U.S. men's bobsled team will compete in Park City, Utah; Calgary, Alberta; Winterberg, Germany; St. Moritz, Switzerland; and Innsbruck, Austria, to name a few.
"Bobsled teams accrue points throughout the season based on their performance each race," Clark explains.
While the training and competition is intense, Clark appreciates that bobsledding allows for a unique kind of camaraderie among teams that can be hard to find in other competitive professional sports.
"In bobsled, you can't directly affect your opponent," he explains. "Because of this, there isn't the same animosity between athletes that you see in other team sports. I can wish my friends on the Canadian or Russian team good luck and really mean it."
And though the road to Sochi is a difficult one, Clark knows that his time at Centre has helped him on his way there.
"I think Centre teaches everyone how to work hard," he says, "and then how to deal with not getting the desired result in spite of that.
"I've put in two and a half years of full-time, round-the-clock training to make this Olympic team," he continues. "This pursuit has been my life. I've sacrificed months of time with my loved ones that I cannot get back, and in the end, I still might not make the team. That's a heavy burden to bear, but I think Centre prepared me for this experience by teaching me how to keep my focus on the things that actually do matter and off the distractions."
Clark is quick to mention the many highlights from his time at Centre, including, as he says, "getting my mind right for high jump with Rob King ’04; being generally hated by Lorenzo Engleman ’04; learning to play receiver from David Crowley ’05; summer football training with Adam Blandford ’07; playing Halo with Jeremy Ware ’07; Cowan-sitting with Chris Radford ’08; and meeting my wife, Ashley Clark ’09.
"I can't begin to name them all," he adds. "I had a fantastic experience at Centre."
Ultimately for Clark, Centre not only gave him some of his best memories but also a sense of purpose that still fuels him today.
"Centre helped me understand that not making the Olympic team isn't a failure," he says. "I've already walked the road; I've done all I can do to achieve this goal, and the joy is in the journey, not the end."
Centre College, founded in 1819, offers its students a world of opportunities, highlighted by the nation's premier study abroad program and a faculty ranked #5 in the nation for "Best Undergraduate Teaching" at a liberal arts college by U.S. News & World Report in 2013. Centre graduates enjoy extraordinary success, with entrance to top graduate and professional schools, prestigious fellowships for further study abroad (Rhodes, Rotary, Fulbright), and rewarding jobs (on average, 97 percent are employed or in advanced study within 10 months of graduation).