Fielding Success

May 03, 2021

By Adrienne Egolf

Damian Clarke ’19 playing a soccer game as a midfielder.
Photo by Mike Watters.

At Rollins, Damian Clarke ’19 forged bonds and developed skills that supported his ambitions both on and off the field.

Damian Clarke ’19 scored the second-most goals in his final season as a midfielder, but it was perhaps an off-the-field moment that he remembers as one of his biggest victories. He was working as a veterinary technician while preparing to enter grad school when one of his Rollins professors came into the practice as a client.

“Seeing the look on his face as he realized I’d accomplished what I set out to do was honestly such a great feeling,” he says. “Like making the game-winning goal.”

Clarke made nearly 25 starts on the soccer team—a feat he achieved while majoring in marine biology and researching the evolution of sea stars, a project he went on to publish in a scholarly journal and present at a national conference. The marine-loving midfielder is now pursuing a graduate degree in veterinary medicine at Tufts with plans to enter general veterinary practice or specialize in small-animal surgery.

“I can never overstate how well Rollins prepared me for what I’m doing now,” says Clarke. “My soccer coaches celebrated my academic successes, and my biology professors celebrated my soccer successes. I realized that my dreams—while they may be dreams—are reachable.”

Damian Clarke ’19 and biology professor Fiona Harper conduct research on sea stars.Damian Clarke ’19 and biology professor Fiona Harper conduct research on sea stars.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Learning How to Learn

“At first, the research I did with [biology professor] Fiona Harper on sea stars seemed daunting, but Dr. Harper helped me walk so I could run. Understanding the fragility of the species was something I could really only learn by doing, not reading in a book. Working with her through the Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program was probably the best experience I had at Rollins.”

Ties That Bind

“I immediately knew that Rollins was an environment that fosters a family bond. The coaches didn't just see me as someone they could benefit from—they saw me as a player who could grow into someone better. They wanted everyone on the team to have just as big an impact in their classes as they did on the field.”

Liberal Arts in Action

“The summer before my senior year, I interned at Flagler Integrative Veterinary Clinic, where I got to shadow two practicing veterinarians. That experience really opened my eyes to the world of veterinary medicine and put me on the career path I’m on now.”

Rollins athletics teams representing everything from tennis and soccer to volleyball and rowing.Rollins athletics teams representing everything from tennis and soccer to volleyball and rowing.
Photo by Scott Cook.

The Perfect Blend

At Rollins, we’re committed to both academic and athletic excellence, providing student-athletes with the opportunity to excel in the classroom, on the field, and for life.

By the Numbers

  • 23 National Championships
  • 90 Sunshine State Conference Championships
  • 35 Consecutive semesters with a cumulative GPA above 3.0
  • 10 NCAA Presidents’ Awards for Academic Excellence

21 NCAA Division II Teams

  • Baseball (M)
  • Basketball (M,W)
  • Golf (M,W)
  • Lacrosse (M,W)
  • Rowing (M,W)
  • Sailing (M,W)
  • Soccer (M,W)
  • Softball (W)
  • Swimming (M,W)
  • Tennis (M,W)
  • Volleyball (W)
  • Waterskiing (M,W)
A golf coaches instructs a pair of student-athletes.

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