Blake Clouser started out playing a lot of different sports. She swam, she played basketball and soccer. But around age 8 is when she discovered lacrosse. By age 10, she was hooked — she quit her other sports to start club lacrosse and never looked back.
“I like lacrosse so much more than I'd ever liked any other sport, but it was also just the one that I've been the best at — I was really bad as every other sport I've ever played, so, I decided to stick to lacrosse,” she says with a laugh.
Though that isn’t strictly true, according to her mother Amy.
“She was a good swimmer!” Amy says. “She just didn’t like the early morning practices.”
The reality was Blake was an all-around good athlete, but Lacrosse just happened to be the sport that captured her heart, and her dreams.
“I think my favorite thing is just like the camaraderie and how close you get to your team. The way everybody gets along and has to work together,” she says. “That and the state of the game, the fast pace.”
By the time she began playing lacrosse at Tuscarora High School, Blake’s dreams turned to playing lacrosse at the collegiate level. She wanted to get recruited, and so began an honest assessment of her strengths and weaknesses on the field.
In the strengths column was Blake’s naturally high overall fitness level and her lacrosse IQ, her understanding of the lay of the field. Add to that her natural aggressiveness in getting to the ball.
“She’s not afraid to take somebody out,” Amy adds with a laugh.
But as a midfield, Blake readily admits she lacked explosive speed, something really needed to compete as a midfielder on the draw.
“Down the field she may beat you, but in a quick 10-yard sprint, she definitely takes a little bit to get going,” Amy says. “She kept saying, ‘If I want to get recruited, I need to be stronger. I need to be faster. I need to understand how better to make my body do what I want it to do.’”
And then there was the issue of mindset.
“Playing on varsity my freshman year, I had like a really hard time with my confidence and just the mental side of the game,” Blake says.
That’s when Blake first sought out Player’s Fitness and Performance, in Frederick, Maryland. It was in January of 2018.
“She was one of those athletes that kind of gets in her head,” says Coach Travis Bewley, Director of Athletic Enhancement at PFP. “I think she had the physical capabilities and resources to make things happens, but she had a lot of times when she just doubted herself.”
So, in addition to working on running mechanics and agility drills, building Blake’s core and overall strength, Bewley and the PFP team also worked to boost her confidence and teach her ways to reset her mind when something went wrong on the field.
“We noticed a lot of athletes shut down after making a mistake, but making mistakes are inevitable. We give the athletes a tangible action, a ritual to perform after a mistake,” Bewley says. “It’s a word, a gesture, a breath — It’s their mental reset button.”
It made a world of difference for Blake.
“In those first six months at PFP, I think I grew more mentally than physically,” she says. “That was really important to me.”
Blake was no slouch when it came to physical growth either.
“In the hexer deadlift, I would set challenges for her over a four-week cycle and say, ‘this is the weight you’re going to hit,’” Bewley says. “Initially, she’d think there was no way she was going to hit it, but she did.”
Her strength and confidence growing hand over hand, Blake could see a dramatic difference in her speed from the line in lacrosse. And so could recruiters: In the fall, she will be playing lacrosse for Wingate University, in North Carolina.
“I think my increased overall speed and strength really set me apart,” she says. “It allowed me to get recruited.”
And in the meantime, Blake has received some local recognition too, being named PFP’s March Athlete of the Month.
“Her academics, the way she handles herself in the gym, the intensity of her workouts; it’s what we look for in Athletes of the Month,” Bewley says. “That and being a leader in the gym, saying hi to people and being able to help people with equipment. In the end what matters is how willing will you be to help people who can’t do anything for you in return.”
Serving others is one of Blake’s long-term goals. She plans to major in exercise science and eventually go to work in the occupational or physical therapy.
But she has a few things to take care of first, like her final season of high school lacrosse.
“I want to be all county,” Blake says. And then, once at Wingate, to get as much playing time as she possibly can during her four years as a collegiate athlete.
“I want to be the best me I can be over the next four years,” she says. “I guess I am just excited to play.”
That’s Blake Clouser’s Why. What’s your why?