Combat on the Pitch
By Emer Friend
Clara Friend, former star athlete at White Plains High School, gets real about her life as an athlete. Clara has played soccer since kindergarten; she has always had a ball at her feet. All her family grew up playing soccer, so it came naturally to her and only made sense to play.
She had many different methods to help strengthen her soccer skills. Clara started track as a way to condition for soccer, but ended up falling in love with track the way she had fallen in love with soccer. She had her breakthrough game when she was in middle school playing on the junior varsity high school team. She started over high schoolers, and when she scored her first WPHS goal, it was clear that she belonged. As a track star, her breakthrough race was her first race back from her knee injury. She proved to the coaches as well as her relay team that she was back to her old self and more than ready to compete again.
Being a scholar athlete is very difficult, but Clara Friend made it seem like a piece of cake. She trained everyday after class, then had to trek her way over to club practice. She managed to stay on top of her grades and passed with flying colors. She sacrificed her social life in order to commit to her athletics. Many times she missed out on spending time with her friends and even missed her own birthday!
Sadly, in her sophomore year Clara suffered from the common “ACL tear” that a lot of athletes face. Most uncommonly, in her first game back she re-tore it. She had been through two surgeries almost exactly a year apart. Yet, Clara is a hard-working and determined girl. Being out for over two long years did not stop her from achieving her goals. She worked hard every single day to get her knee back to the way it was.
Her schedule was very rigorous; it changed from going to soccer and track, to spending her days at physical therapy and the gym. She was able to embrace the support she received from her friends and family and put it to use. Her relationship with her teams was always great, but now at ROTC the relationships she has formed with her brothers and sisters are even stronger. As she puts it, “The more the struggle, the better the bond.”
Being an athlete has helped Clara get to where she is today. She is currently serving in the U.S Army and says that without her teams and teammates, she would not be at Norwich University Senior Military College of Vermont and part of their ROTC program. When asked about this experience, Clara said, “The self discipline it takes to be an athlete is similar to that of a soldier.”
She learned from her injuries that change can occur at anytime, and the only thing you can really do is adapt. Being able to adapt is a huge part of the Army; two of her school's values are “try and persevere." She has learned this through WPHS athletics, and although she isn’t playing anymore, she still and always applies the values she learned everyday.