Top 24 Under 24: Soccer champ shoots for medical studies

Published in 24 Hours Vancouver | October 28, 2013 | Circulation: 280,000+

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Kinesiology student Paul Clerc has managed to keep his grades up in hopes of entering medical school while traveling the world playing soccer.

Playing for the 2012 national champion University of B.C. men’s team, the defender was chosen to represent Canada at the this year’s Universiade, a worldwide, multi-sport championship held in Kazan, Russia.

“My passion for soccer grew from getting together with the same people every week,” he explained. “The winning helped, but also the fact you got friends from it, teammates who support you in the game and off the field.

“On the field itself, being able to win with people you’ve been working so hard towards that goal for the last three to four years is a great feeling.”

The 21-year-old also teaches swimming and fitness and volunteered in the cardiology rehabilitation clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital. Soccer, he adds, is the perfect combination of skill and strategy.

“It’s a lot of technique, but there’s also quite a bit of thought process involved,” he said. “You can be a highly technical player, but without the mindset of where to go on the field you won’t be quite as gifted as somebody who studied the game, watches on weekend, and knows the strategies and formations.”

Clerc hopes to study cardiology because of his fascination with how bodies and hearts change in different conditions.

Representing Canada internationally in sports is a daunting responsibility, but he notes his secret to preparing for games is to listen to his own music beforehand.

“I find knowing what’s coming up next helps calm me down,” he said. “I also pace a lot in the change room. It’s a force of habit, not out of nervousness but just to keep moving.”

To balance an 84% average and captain an all-star college team takes dedication, and he advises students to “be very rigorous” in committing their time to what’s important.

“If you know you have things coming up with studying make sure those get done before you turn to something that might put you off school or soccer,” he said. “It’s not the funnest to buckle down and focus, but sometimes it has to be done.”

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