Clark Dean: The 2015 Fan’s Choice Junior Athlete of the Year

by Sarah Marshall, | Nov 04, 2015
As crews from across the country poured into sunny Florida this past June, Clark Dean and his teammates with the Sarasota Crew were excited to race. A new lineup, their home turf and a strong group of young men wanting to make a grab at the men’s varsity eight title.

As crews from across the country poured into sunny Sarasota for the 2015 URowing Youth Nationals at Nathan Benderson Park this past June, Clark DeanOctober2015 copy (1) and his teammates with Sarasota Crew were excited to compete.

They had a new lineup, they were on their home lake and he was among a strong group of young men wanting to make a grab at the coveted men’s varsity eight title. 

While Sarasota would ultimately not make it into the grand final, the young crew was not deterred and won the B final. Now, with raw talent and a positive outlook for next year, athletes like Dean give Sarasota a strong chance for 2016.

“We were actually happy with our finish at youth nationals,” said Dean, the team’s assistant captain. “We only had one returner to the boat, so we knew we were pretty young compared to other crews. We went right into training for club nationals so there was no time to be sorry for ourselves. We just had to move on.”

This positive attitude and strong mindset are easily what make Dean such an ideal candidate for the 2015 Fan’s Choice Junior Athlete of the Year Award.

His real accomplishments are off the water. They are simple, yet important tasks - being there for a teammate who needs help, cleaning up the boathouse without being asked, or staying late to cox a teammate through an erg piece. They are little, unspoken, gestures. But they strengthen the team's bond between boat mates.

“It's important each day for everyone not only to get along but to just be positive to one another,” said Dean. “When everyone has a good attitude and are constantly pushing one another in a positive way, it means that we aren’t only getting better individually, we are getting better as a team. As a boat, we all want our teammates to get stronger and get faster.”

CanadianHenley1x (1)His record in the boat is something to watch, however, as the young rower shows immense potential. After taking seventh place at nationals, Dean went on to take top finishes at the 2015 Royal Canadian Henley in the U17 single sculls and the U17 quadruple sculls. On Lake Harsha in Cincinnati at the 2015 USRowing Club Nationals, Dean won three gold medals and one silver.

With big dreams still to be accomplished, Dean is already looking forward to the 2016 season.

“I am looking toward next spring, we definitely want to do better at youth nationals and make our way into the A final,” said Dean. “I am hoping to work hard enough to try out for the junior national team, I think that would be an awesome experience just to compete at that level.”

Besides being a leader on his team, Dean also holds an impressive 3.86 GPA at the Pine View School for the gifted where he acts as a class officer and carried a rigorous workload.

And when his homework and erg pieces get too hard, Dean always knows that he can count on all that extra vitamin D in Sarasota to raise his spirits as he continues to strive to be the best rower he can be.

“I love getting to row in Florida,” he said. “It's a nice advantage to be on the water all year round and not having to worry about the water freezing over. It's definitely a positive thing for us.”

USRowing’s Fan’s Choice Awards embodies excellence in rowing by showcasing top performances over the current year. Dean and his fellow six winners were nominated by and voted for based on their contributions to the sport and achievements on the water. All will be honored at the fifth-annual Golden Oars Awards Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 19 at the New York Athletic Club in New York City.

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