In The Locker Room with Clare Tiedemann, Track and Field First-Year

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A native of New York City, College first-year Clare Tiedemann came to Oberlin with a plethora of interests. She sings, dances, plays piano and guitar, is interested in wildlife and environmental conservation, and competes in almost every event for the track and field team. She broke the school record in the indoor 60-meter hurdles at the North Coast Athletic Conference Championships this past winter and looks to be a key competitor in the hurdles and long jump for the squad this spring.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Your nickname on the track team is Sticky Spaghetti. Can you explain?

That was from something my coach said at one point. He put a bunch of people in the long jump just to try it out, and basically the idea was to throw spaghetti at a wall and see if it sticks. That’s what’s happened to me this whole year. I’ve just tried a bunch of new things, and every one of them has stuck, so I’m sticky spaghetti, I guess. Everything I’m doing now is something I’ve never done before this year. My high school didn’t offer many events other than running and shot-put because our track team was super underfunded.

What events have you competed in this year?

I’ve mostly just done hurdles, and I just did shot-put for the first time, which is not my event — yet. But I just started high jump and long jump, and long jump is basically where I got the nickname, because I had practiced it like twice before our first meet and I did pretty well, which was really exciting because I did not expect that I would do well. I changed the leg that I was going to jump off of the day before the meet, so it was really stressful for me, but it worked out.

What will be your main events for the outdoor season?

Definitely hurdles. I think that’s my strongest event right now for sure. And long jump.

Which is your favorite?

I love hurdles. The reason I do track is because I really like going fast, and there’s something about flying over obstacles that’s really exciting to me. Long jump has grown on me, though. I was actually terrified of the hurdles and long jump at first, but once I overcame those fears those events became two of the things I enjoy most.

What’s it like transitioning from the most populated city in the country to Oberlin?

The one thing that has changed the most is the accessibility of everything. You can find anything you want in New York. You take a 15-minute subway ride and you can get anything you want. I moved around a lot more there. Here, I’m basically on campus at all times. But I really appreciate that I can say hi to people that I know, because you never really run into people you know in the city. I like being able to walk around and wave to people. It feels like a small-town vibe, which I’ve never experienced before.

You took a gap year before coming to Oberlin. What did you do?

I spent the first three months taking a NOLS course in New Zealand, which is the National Outdoor Leadership School. Basically we did really intense outdoor activities for three months. The first month I spent mountaineering on a glacier, which was 100 percent the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. There were many days where I thought I was going to die, but getting through that changed me as a person. The second month was sea kayaking, which was really cool because we got to see all the aquatic wildlife, like orca whales and stuff. Hiking was the last month, which was definitely the most fun because we were in really good shape at that point. It was super cool hiking up mountains with all my buddies.

That was just the beginning of my gap year — I did two more organized things. I did culinary school in England for a month. I was in Somerset, England, so it was mostly cows. Actual England wasn’t super exciting, but it was really cool to learn how to cook. I thought I knew how to cook, but I really didn’t.

The last thing I did was I spent six weeks in Costa Rica working with wildlife.

You and your brother Charlie, who is a College junior on the men’s basketball team, are very close. Did he influence your college decision at all?

I don’t know. When I came and visited him, that definitely was nice to actually see what life here is like, and not just from a touristy point of view. I kind of wanted to go here ever since I looked, which was when he first looked here. I just really liked how relaxed people here seemed and how it’s kind of weird. That was my favorite part of high school. There was a group of people who were weird and artsy, and I really liked that. I feel like that’s definitely here.

Are you into art?

At my high school they offered the ability to be an art major, which is basically just making art a core part of your academics. I did that and really enjoyed it. I want to get back into it, but I haven’t really fit it into my schedule yet.

You take classes through Oberlin’s dance program — when did you begin dancing?

I kind of started dancing in fifth grade, and I’ve been on and off doing it. I really got into it my last year of high school. I joined our dance ensemble, which is a student-choreographed dance group. It was really amazing, and I wanted to be a part of it here, too.

Do you want to dance after college?

I don’t know. I think it’s something that’s more for me. I don’t know if I see it as a career. I just see it as something I really enjoy doing.

If you had to pick a dream job, what would it be?

I actually know. I really want to be a NOLS instructor, which is the program that I did in New Zealand. That is my ideal job because it’s super athletic, I’d get to be outside, and it has a focus on sustainability, which is something I’m really passionate about.

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