"Sometimes you have to go through darkness to see the light." Reese Hilton-Clarke
What's Your "Y"
Interview with Reese Hilton-Clarke, Division 1 Athlete, University of Central Connecticut State, Safety
Give us a brief background of how your fitness/sport journey has evolved?
My football journey began when I was pretty much born. My whole family lives, eats and breathes football. My earliest childhood photo is me holding a football. My pops went to the NFL combine and got invited to an NFL camp. He also played division 1 FBS football. My mom was also a multisport athlete playing lacrosse and track at a high level. I also have multiple cousins that played in the NFL at all different positions.
Now, my journey wasn’t the ideal one, I was always one of the smallest kids on my team each year. But the one thing I had was tenacity.
I was always the middle linebacker and the hardest hitter even being the lightest player.
Many people doubted me in high school and would say I’m too invested, but I love the sport and would do anything for it. Slowly I started to get bigger and start hitting the weight room and my weight started to go up but being a dual sport athlete playing lacrosse I would lose my muscle mass and must restart before every football season.
On the other hand, after I got to my junior and senior year, I finally started getting into what my body will look like and I finally started getting the offers I was looking for. It was a very fun and stressful experience to get recruited but I wouldn’t want the outcome and where I’m at right now to be different in any way.
Who has been your main source of motivation over the years?
My main source of motivation is my family and God.
First for my family every time I’m on the field and things get hard, I start to think of my family that has passed, and I say do it for them. No matter how bad it hurts I have them looking down on me. I write the deaths of my family on my game towel and wear it to each practice and game. My family at home provided everything for me through the ups and downs, the people who gave me everything in life and taught me so many lessons. I love you guys and appreciate everything you do and have done for me, and I play for y’all every day.
God has provided me so much in this sport and my life and I give all glory to him. That is why I have multiple tattoos of crosses and bible verses on my body. Also for games and practice, I get my wrists taped and write certain quotes or verses on each one.
Where do you find more motivation: doubters or supporters?
Doubters fully motivate me.
Like I said before I have been doubted my whole life because of my size. I was always the smallest kid. I hated being called the smallest kid or getting on the scale and weighing the smallest in pounds on the pop warner team. So, I grinded and grinded till the door of division 1 football opened for me. I appreciate everyone that supports me, and you also motivate me.
But there is something about having someone doubt you that fuels me to go even harder. My pops used to tell me “You have a chip on your shoulder, you walk around with it every day, it gives you an advantage and a whole new tenacity. Remember what you went through all those hard times… Now go show them how we do it.”
What is the biggest mental challenge you've had to face in your sport and how have you conquered that?
The biggest mental challenge I have had to face was this year. After our season got canceled for COVID-19 I was devastated but I kept working finding ways to keep my body in shape while everything was closed.
I did that by biking and finding weights in my house or items to use as weights. After all that hard work the challenge has hit. We got back to football in the spring, and I got a little knee injury. I thought it was nothing, but I missed all of spring. We didn't know what it was. Summer ball comes and the same knee and injury that I thought was ok I tore even more according to my team doctor. This led to me getting surgery on my patella and missing this whole season. This had a big impact on my mental and physical state. I didn’t know what to do without the sport and I felt lost.
What I did to overcome it was to talk to people that really care about me and hang out more and get out of the room. My team Chaplin and I talk every Sunday and he also had a big impact on my mental and how to overcome all adversity.
What do you do to make sure you're physically and mentally prepared for competition?
I give it all I got every day.
One thing I think about every day is there is someone else in the world working harder than you trying to take your spot so never get comfortable or complacent. Many people don’t understand your body is what you put in. Your diet must come from healthy meals. You can’t be eating all greasy and fatty foods every meal and expect to produce at a high level.
Describe your recovery strategies.
In high school recovery wasn’t really a part of my regime. I thought that I could just play and just ice on days I “felt pain”. But once I got to college, I realized how important it is to recover after every practice. One thing I have always had trouble with is eating breakfast which is the most important meal to start your day and fuel your body.
I use YOLKED every morning now to get my protein and start my recovery for my muscles. It gives me a little fuel to get my day started. I also use YOLKED as a supplement after my workout to get my recovery started as soon as possible so I can feel fully fresh the next day.
What's Your "Y"? What keeps you going and training as hard as you do?
My "Y" is God and my family.
Those two things keep me going every day. It makes me want to work hard and never give up no matter what I go through. No matter what happens I know I always have them to go to under any circumstance.
Where do you see yourself as an athlete in 5 years?
Where I see myself in 5 years is being very successful. If that means I get to play the game, I love greatly or in my dream job I will be thankful no matter what happens.
“God gives his hardest battles to his strongest warriors”
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