John Carroll senior Nicole Clarke has had a spring to remember. She won the 3,200 meters Wednesday during the first day of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland championship meet and has developed into one of the area's best distance runners. She recently accepted a scholarship to Florida Tech.
She may have had even more fun off the track. Clarke was part of a group of John Carroll students who recently took a three-week trip to France. She stayed with a host family and in a hotel and had so much fun on her first trip out of the United States that she left for another trip yesterday, going on a backpacking trip through England, Ireland and France.
She's not sure about her college major yet.
What was it like being in France?
It was really different. I didn't really know what to expect. I'd never been out of the country before, but I really liked my [host] family.
What were some of the places you saw in France that you liked?
Paris was really neat. I liked seeing the Eiffel Tower, of course, but I liked staying in Arras with my host family. It took about an hour and a half to drive [to Paris].
How often were you able to run and stay in training?
I didn't run while I was in Paris, just obviously because my teachers didn't want me to, but when I was in Arras, I would go run around the town a little bit. I was in Paris for five days. I didn't run for the first week because I was still getting used to France. I just ran whenever I could, but we were busy all the time. They scheduled trips for us every other day, so a lot of time, I didn't have time at all.
What has running meant to you in high school since you also played other sports?
Besides doing well, it obviously helped me get into college, but the people I met during running are probably what I like most about it. My memories will be mostly the team, the cross country team especially. We did extremely well, and the friendships I made with that group, they're my best friends probably, especially Erika [Staskakova] - she's my best friend, probably.
What's in your iPod?
Actually, right now, I have French music because my exchange student, I liked her music so much that she said she would download all of her music onto my iPod, so I haven't changed it yet. It's this one band they like; I sing it in my head when I run sometimes because it's really upbeat and stuff. I don't understand it, but I like it.
It sounds like this trip to France really had an effect on you.
It did. I still talk to my exchange student, sometimes. I'm going back to Europe backpacking, so I'm going to meet up with her again. Erika is coming, too. We're backpacking through England and Ireland and France for two weeks. We're coming back the day before graduation on June 1.
What are your goals for running while at Florida Tech?
I just want to improve, because I know everyone gets a lot better in college - so I've heard. And so I just want to bring my times down. Hopefully, I'll meet people through running, too.
How did you find Florida Tech?
I wasn't even originally looking there, but the coach contacted me maybe two weeks before I was going to sign. It was really fast. I went down and I visited, and they offered me a full ride, and I loved the school so it just all kind of fell into place really quickly.