Hugh Clarke, Public Relations Graduate / Tennis
College: Pepperdine Degree: Public Relations
Graduated: Spring 2013, Sport: Tennis
What were some of the highlights of your time in the US?
After four years of college tennis there are so many highlights and memories that I take away from the whole experience. Any time I was on the road with my team I really enjoyed the company and culture we would surround ourselves with. It truly is a unique system for tennis whereby you are training and improving with 8-10 other guys in an individual sport like tennis. My number one highlight of college tennis would be making the final four of the NCAA's in 2012. We defeated Georgia in the quarter finals when they were seeded 2 in the tournament in front of their home crowd of 4,000. It was an amazing team effort and a nail-biting match that I will remember forever.
Describe a typical day in your life as a student-athlete.
Typically, our team would practice everyday from 2-5:30 p.m., which included an hour of fitness. The facilities I had at Pepperdine were amazing and gave me every opportunity to improve. I liked to take class in the morning before practice, other guys on the team would catch night classes at 6 after practice. An example of a regular day could have been class from 9-12, then lunch and a warm up in the training room, practice from 2-5:30 p.m, dinner with the team in the school cafeteria, and then study at night. I liked having a routine like this that was still pretty flexible despite the demands of being a college-athlete.
How did you balance your studies, sport and spare time?
This is the toughest part of being a student-athlete. In saying that, learning to manage your time between study, tennis, and a healthy social life is a continuous learning curve throughout the college experience that definitely helps prepare you for anything after college sport. For me, I had lived away from home since I was 12, so managing and organising myself was nothing new to me, however the workload and demands were tougher than high school. It's a unique balancing act that is very manageable if you approach everything with moderation and prepare yourself week by week. Having the maturity to pull back on social events when study needs your focus, or studying early for exams when you have tennis tournaments coming up, is all part of the college sport experience that makes it so valuable and worthwhile.
What would you say to a high school student considering a US Scholarship?
If you want to train like a professional athlete in your chosen field, AND study and obtain a degree whilst living and travelling in the US, then college sport is definitely a worthwhile pursuit that you should look into. No other country in the world offers the facilities, opportunities, and support that the US college sport system provides.
What are you up to now?
I have moved back to Australia since graduating from Pepperdine with a degree in Public Relations. I am working in my parents fruit and vegetable wholesale business liaising with clients and promoting the company through its website. Life after college sport is a change of pace and perception and the values and qualities I learnt and improved during my time in the US have helped my adjust to working in the family business.