Full Name (plus any rugby nickname(s)): Elena Clark a.k.a. DC
Hometown: Sunnyvale, CA
Position(s) played: In life: scrumhalf and center; for the All Blues: center
All Blues since: 2017
All Blues: When and how did you first start playing rugby? What got you into it?
DC: I showed up to college planning to join the sailing team, of all things. However, When I couldn’t decide between the two, my sister asked, “Well, who would you rather spend the next four years with? Sailors or ruggers?” That made the choice easy.
Did you play any sports prior to rugby?
DC: I ran the gambit as a kid, but by the time I was in high school, I was a competitive saber fencer. I even went to the Junior Olympics a few times. It was a great excuse to travel the country when I was supposed to be in school.
Is there a particular player and/or coach that has influenced your development as a player? In what way(s) did they help you?
DC: I’ve been super lucky to have lots of great coaches, so it’s hard to pick just one. When I played for the DC Furies 7s team, we made it to Nationals while I was still in college and definitely not on the same level as many of my teammates. However, the coach saw potential in me, so put me on the roster anyways. I got invaluable, high-level experience, and gained a lot of confidence in myself. I don’t think I’d be the same player today without that opportunity.
How did you first find out about the All Blues? What made you come out here and join us?
DC: The All Blues are legendary. I knew about them when I started playing on the East Coast, I continued to hear about them while playing in Arizona, and was thrilled when I moved close enough to be able to play with them.
Do you have a philosophy/mindset when you practice and play rugby? Thinking about a game you thought went really well for you, how did you get your mind and body ready for that match?
DC: Being in the right mindset is so important, and surprisingly difficult. Before a game, I used to just stay loose and joke around with my teammates, so I went into the game having fun. However, recently I’ve had to change that strategy to be a bit more focused. I spent all of last D2 season working to come up with the right strategy. Now I like to listen to my own music, visualize what I’m going to do, and decide on one or two personal goals for the game. Then, once I’m on the pitch, if I ever start to get unfocused or lazy, I just remind myself that if my teammates can keep going, so can I.
What has been your most memorable time with the All Blues?
DC: On the pitch, my favorite game was the D2 finals against SFGG. What we had been working on all season finally clicked into place, and we flowed really well. It was a very gratifying experience. Off the pitch, it’s hard to pick a single experience. Every time we travel, I get to bond with different teammates and always feel a bit more part of the team. It’s a really great culture that the All Blues have created.
What is the best advice you have ever received about playing rugby?
DC: It’s a bit of a rugby cliché at this point, but the best thing I’ve been told by a coach is that the only wrong choice is no choice, and any choice you make is the right one. When I first started playing, I was very timid, and would sometimes freeze up if I wasn’t sure what the best option was. That advice really helped me to make decisions and stick with them in games.
What skills are you working on/would like to work on right now?
DC: There are always a million and one things to work on, and often my problem is choosing just one or two to focus on. Right now, I’m working on my offloads – both receiving and giving, as well as my drop kicks, and overall communication on the pitch.
What is your favorite non-rugby activity? Do you have any other passions besides rugby?
DC: Does drinking coffee count? I really put my heart and soul into it, every day. Besides that, I love being outdoors. Camping, hiking, biking – you name it, I’m in.