Sky Clarke practices what she preaches. As the Overall Soldier Fitness Coordinator for 21st Theater Support Command, she encourages and empowers soldiers, civilians, and their families to live their best lives, and sets an impressive example for them to follow.
Clarke embodies the theme of this year’s National Women’s History Month, “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.”
Clarke doesn’t just seize every opportunity to heal and promote hope, she creates opportunities. Since assuming responsibility for improving the performance and readiness of the 21st TSC soldier last July, Clarke has developed outreach programs, produced special events and influenced command policies. It raises awareness of mental and physical health needs and makes it easier for Team 21 to meet those needs.
As she strives to achieve the highest standards of command wellness, Clarke understands that the obstacles, ranging from time constraints and self-doubt to lack of social support, can seem insurmountable. But she also knows from personal experience that they can be overcome. She is passionate about sharing this message and helping others achieve their wellness goals.
“Real wealth is in health,” Clarke said. “You can have all the money in the world, you can have all kinds of material possessions, but if you don’t have your health, none of that matters.”
Clarke has always made fitness a priority. She was a five-sport athlete at Cleveland High School in Portland, Oregon and was on the Oregon State University rowing team. She eventually earned a master’s degree in elementary education and special education from the University of Oregon with the intention of teaching.
However, a 2003 internship at a summer child and youth services program for the military in Wiesbaden, Germany, changed his course.
“I fell in love working for the military,” Clarke said. “It completely changed my career path.”
She interned in the military each summer while working on her degree, completing internship requirements through internships in Germany, Norway, Italy, and Japan. She obtained her master’s degree at the age of 21. She was hired to work full time in Vicenza, Italy and continued with the Child Development and School Age Centers for 12 years.
Her career path took her to Ft. Hood, Texas and Fort. Carson, Colorado, before a stint at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, where she made the leap from youth sports to adult sports. While at White Sands, she also oversaw the civilian welfare program and served on the Commander’s Readiness and Resilience Board.
These experiences prepared her for her next assignment in Germany and the 21st TSC.
“As soon as this position opened up, I jumped on it and applied because that was all I was passionate about inside and outside of my career,” Clarke said.
This passion, combined with his academic and professional experiences, helps him meet the challenge of serving the vast geographical footprint of the 21st TSC. Implementing programs and delivering services across the European continent, including forward operating sites, during a global pandemic requires commitment, expertise and energy.
These are qualities that colleagues like Lathan Newkirk, suicide prevention manager at U.S. Army Installation Garrison-Rheinland-Pfalz, have seen in action at White Sands and in Germany.
“Sky Clarke is a consummate professional,” Newkirk said. “She is always up to the task and is looking for new ways to contribute to the general well-being of people here at KMC. Having known her for five years, I believe she is driven to be the best at what she does. You can see it in his dedication to CrossFit and his zeal in carrying out his duties as the 21st TSC CSF Manager.
Clarke’s duties include being the point person for suicide prevention, civilian wellness, and holistic health throughout the 21st TSC. She is also responsible for the core command resilience training. She draws on her college education background to deliver more realistic, interactive workshops that don’t rely on slide decks.
“I really feel like these presentations aren’t very effective if someone just sits down and we go over a few PowerPoint presentations,” Clarke said. “It’s really difficult to have this real-life implementation and understanding. So how can I make this different? How can I make this relevant and fun? »
She envisions training where service members actually complete a project or physical activity using the skills being taught, such as an escape challenge.
Clarke shares her personal experiences overcoming challenges, in hopes that she can help others build resilience.
“I want to share that I’ve been through some tough times, a divorce, a late miscarriage,” Clarke said. “I understand the grief. And if there’s anything I can do to help others in this state, that’s life. Help those around you.
An avid athlete, she relied on running in the morning before work to manage stress, breathe fresh air and reset herself each day.
“Unfortunately, even before I was 30, I had knee and hip issues,” Clarke said. Doctors told her that if she didn’t stop running, she would probably need a knee or hip replacement, or both. She had to find another physical outlet.
Although she has never lifted dumbbells, she has tried CrossFit.
“I remember my first workout was about 20 minutes long and I could barely move the next day,” Clarke said. “I was in so much pain, but I loved it.”
She was a new mom, working one of the most stressful jobs of her career, and her husband at the time was in Korea, so she enjoyed the close-knit CrossFit community.
“The combination of physical outlet and focus for me was important, but the community aspect as a single mom…it’s my family, it’s my friends, it’s who supported me in the hard times, through divorce, through PCS.
“I ended up doing my CrossFit Level 1 training, because I was trying to learn the science behind CrossFit. And once I did that, I completely fell in love with it even more.
Last fall, Clarke qualified for the global German Throwdown competition in Mainz, which limited participation to the top 10 athletes in each age group. She placed eighth overall in the 35-39 age group.
“It was amazing,” Clarke said. ” The hardest [physical] experience in my life, but very, very inspiring.
Clarke inspires others by training and coaching at Teutonic CrossFit in Kaiserslautern. She has her CrossFit Level 2 certification and is a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor with the American College of Sports Medicine.
“I love coaching,” Clarke said. “For me, my two positions complement each other very well because they both aim to make people stronger and healthier mentally and physically.”
Her advice for people going through tough times or wanting to build resilience is to take care of the essentials.
“I really believe in the foundation,” Clarke said. “Take care of the most basic things you can do, which is sleeping, eating and staying hydrated. I know they sound basic…but your body and mind won’t function if you’re sleep deprived or if you don’t eat a healthy diet or if you’re dehydrated.
Clarke advises looking at the bigger picture when going through a stressful time.
“Often when we look at a small chapter of our life, it’s hard to see how the big picture is unfolding,” Clarke said. “So in a time of transition, whether it’s a new career, a divorce, or some form of hardship, at that point we don’t understand why it’s happening. But I started to think about how I’m going to see this in 10 years. Often the things that I thought were going to devastate my life tipped me in a whole new direction that I had no idea I was going to. I’ll be one day. When you have that different perspective, it can relieve the pressure of, “Why is this happening?” You realize, ‘Hey, maybe I don’t understand what’s going on now, but in 10 years, I will look back and understand why it happened.’
“You’re going to be throwing curveballs and you have to figure out how to maneuver around it.”
Clarke is ready to support anyone who needs help with these curveballs.
“I feel like the purpose of my work is to help others become stronger and healthier,” she said. “And as someone who’s had a really hard time, if it wasn’t for other people to help me or have the skills or the strength to keep moving forward knowing that on the other side, I see the big picture, I don’t know if I would be where I am today.
Although the motto of the 21st TSC is “First in Support!” Clarke is fine if she’s not someone’s first choice for help. She promotes all available resources and quickly helps individuals find and connect to other programs, including Military Family Life Consultants, Church Services, Behavioral Health, Army Community Services, and the fight against army drug addiction.
“If one didn’t work, don’t stop there,” Clarke said. “You owe it to yourself to keep trying to find what works for you and help you through this difficult time.”
Clarke found her form at the 21st TSC, bringing healing and hope.
|Date posted:||03.07.2022 04:48|
|Location:||KAISERSLAUTERN, RP, DE|
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