Bobbi Clemmer reached the state’s top stage in track as a Slidell freshman, bringing home a silver medal in the 800.
Three school years later at a different school, the now-Decatur senior will again get the opportunity Saturday to run for a state championship. Clemmer and her Lady Eagle teammates will run in the Class 3A race at the University Interscholastic League’s cross country championships at Round Rock’s Old Settlers Park at 1:20 p.m.
“I didn’t know if I’d get that lucky again,” Clemmer said. “I never thought I’d be at state in cross country. I’m here because of the team, not me.”
The opportunity for Clemmer comes after a winding and busy journey that has featured setbacks and tests, mentally and physically. But they’ve all made her even more appreciative.
“To now have this opportunity is amazing,” Clemmer said. “I wish I could have been here last year, but things happen for a reason.”
To even be in North Texas is something Clemmer probably wouldn’t have expected more than five years ago. Her family moved south from Pennsylvania when she was a freshman in high school.
“It was a culture shock, going from living in the North to here,” Clemmer said. “The heat was a big change, but I love it here.”
As a freshman at Slidell, she made an immediate impact on the track, qualifying for state in the 400 and 800. As a sophomore, she helped the basketball team and the cross country teams reach the regional level of competition.
Before her junior year, Clemmer transferred to Decatur. Per UIL rules, she had to compete on the junior varsity level in all sports for an entire school year.
“It was tough at the time, but I just relaxed,” Clemmer said. “It helped that I knew I was going to be on JV and could prepare for it. I knew I would have an opportunity to compete for a varsity spot again as a senior.”
Decatur cross country coach David Park said Clemmer never complained and kept working throughout her junior year.
“She handled it well,” Park said. “She wanted to come to school in Decatur and that was part of the deal. She knew it coming in and was prepared for it.”
During that junior campaign, she won the District 7-3A title on the junior varsity level. Clemmer also cruised to league titles in track in the 400 and 800.
Clemmer enjoyed the opportunity to compete, but longed to do it again at the highest level.
After waiting a year, she hoped for a healthy senior year when she could make an immediate impact for the Lady Eagles. But that was not the case. After a strong showing in her first meet, she hurt an ankle playing soccer for a select team in Fort Worth. She wasn’t able to return until the Reunion Run in early October.
“When I got hurt, I was upset that I was losing ground,” Clemmer said. “But my teammates were real supportive. They told me to get better and do the best I could do.”
After getting over the injury, Clemmer was forced to miss the district meet with an illness. But after the team advanced to regionals, she earned a chance to run in Lubbock. She finished 50th in 13:39.
Saturday, she expects to be in her top condition this season and have her best race of the year.
“I’ve been working hard, and I’m done with the injuries, and I’m not sick anymore,” Clemmer said. “I’m nervous, but I’m hoping to turn those nerves into adrenaline to perform.”
Park expects Clemmer to give a solid performance.
“If I were to describe her in one word, it’d be competitive,” Park said. “If we were playing marbles, she’d want to win.
“We’re both excited to see what she can do.”
After cross country, Clemmer will play basketball for the Lady Eagles and also run track in the spring. All the while, she’ll also be playing club soccer and working part time.
“She does a little of everything,” Park said. “I don’t know how she does it all.”
In the spring, Clemmer will sign a letter of intent to play soccer next fall at Texas Christian University. The midfielder has played the sport since she was five back in Pennsylvania. She’s played at an elite level for several years.
“I love all sports, but soccer definitely is my passion,” Clemmer said.
This past year, she played in the prestigious Dallas Cup tournament against teams from around the world.
She committed to TCU last December because it was close to home and she had a close relationship with coach Dan Abdalla. But after Abdalla resigned earlier this month, Clemmer faced anxiety about whether the Fort Worth university would stick to its word.
“I was really worried about my future,” Clemmer said. “I was really glad TCU said they would honor the commitment.”
With her long-term future plan set, Clemmer is just concentrating on Saturday and this opportunity, this second chance to run for a championship.
“It’s been so long, but it’s good to be back,” she said.