Clark Siblings Sharing West Point Experience


This article appeared in The Huntsville Times on Dec. 10, 2008 and was written by Bob Labbe.

Brother and sister, both plebes, also competing in sports

Siblings Zach and Shige Clark were thankful to be home to see family and friends at Thanksgiving. They are freshmen at the U.S. Military Academy and are playing sports at West Point, just as they did at Bob Jones High School.

Zach competes for Army's wrestling team. Shige, pronounced Shay, participates in Sandhurst, which is a form of the biathlon.

Zach attended West Point Prep School after graduating from Bob Jones in 2007. Shige is freshman. Zach was a wrestler and ran cross country in high school. Shige was in the choir and ran cross country while at Bob Jones. Zach was the all-time school wrestling record holder with 200 wins and 18 just losses.

Shige ran cross country and was a member of the Huntsville Rowing Club. Both were academically gifted in high school.

"I hope to possibly earn a law degree, especially in the area of military law," Shige said.

Zach said, "I may make the military my career. But if not, I'd like to get into business and open a restaurant, particularly a coffee shop."

As West Point plebes, or freshmen, Zach and Shige count on each other for help as any brother and sister would. Zach said he is good at math. Shige is strong in English and history. Whenever possible, they tutor one another in the areas where they are lacking.

"Not only does my sister help me in the areas of my academics, but she also offers me a sense of home and that's important for both of us," Zach said.

"It's awesome to have him here," Shige said, "but I'm used to being around males all my life. I'm the only girl among seven children in our family. It gave me undivided love in the sister department and that made me who I am today."

Ken and Nansi Clark are proud parents. Shige and Zach aren't their first children to attend West Point. Another son, Kacey, attended West Point for two years before transferring to the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where he is currently a student.

"I love it at West Point and I don't want to be anywhere else," Shige said. "There is such a high caliber of people here and they all want to be a leader in their lives. We all want to make a difference in the world in some way. As for being a female in a male-dominated school, the only issue I have is trying to keep up with the guys physically, but I know I can contribute in areas they don't."

West Point's wrestling program is part of the Patriot League, and West Point goes up against universities such as Bucknell and Lehigh. Zach wrestles in the 149-pound division. Practice sessions last as much as three hours a day and include required weight-lifting practice. Depending on the program schedule, wrestling can take up at least six days of Zach's already busy day.

"Wrestling in the college level is extremely different than high school," Zach said. "All of the wrestlers are elite athletes and with the demanding schedule we have as cadets and athletes, it's like having a full-time job versus a high school after-school activity."

Sandhurst, Shige said, includes shooting, pushups, running and other military-type activities.

Shige has a daily schedule that begins at 6 a.m. and concludes with "lights out" at 11:30 p.m. In between, she attends classroom studies, athletics, drills and club activities. "The Lord is what drives me and having the discipline needed to achieve what I want here at West Point," she said. "Oh, and to have Zach here too is a big plus."

Both are scheduled tograduate from West Pointin 2012.

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