December 18, 2014 --
During 2014, one Marine has altered her title at least eight times. She was the female champion in the Marine Corps Community Services bench press competition; she was on the Armed Forces tournament team and was part of the runner-up team in the Amateur Softball Association tournament.
She was promoted to sergeant, named as a Southwest Georgia 40 Under Forty, earned a college degree and got married. Her most recent title is 2014 Marine Female Athlete of the Year. Sgt. Candice Clark-Thomas, operations noncommissioned officer, Marine Corps Systems Command, was selected as the best female athlete in the Marine Corps.
Clark-Thomas’ selection can be easily validated by her athletic résumé. While a student at Houston County High School, Warner Robins, Georgia, Clark-Thomas was named the best defensive player, was part of the basketball all-region champs as well as the soccer runner-up all-region champs.
At the time of graduation, she had scholarship offers for softball, basketball and soccer. Clark-Thomas chose to concentrate on one sport and accepted a scholarship from Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Ga.
After college, Clark-Thomas joined the Marine Corps where she played softball and basketball. She said some people would discount her abilities, but she was always happy to give a quick lesson on her skills.
Colie Young, public affairs officer, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, described seeing her on the court and immediately dismissed her as competition. His assessment was soon proven to be incorrect.
“I couldn’t keep up with her,” Young said. “I decided I just had a bad day.”
Young would have another opportunity to face off with Clark-Thomas, but the end result was the same. He confessed he was unable to dominate her on the court in either of their two matchups. Clark-Thomas said she isn’t intimidated by size or gender when she is playing.
“I like it when people think they have the advantage, because that’s when I really dig deep,” Clark-Thomas said. “I love to show them, I can win this.”
Her latest win, however, took her by surprise.
“I really couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I mean, I submitted my packet, and I thought I have some good accomplishments, but there are a lot of women in the Marine Corps with great athletic résumés.
“They chose me from all the women in the entire Marine Corps,” Clark-Thomas added, still sounding surprised.
Clark-Thomas said although she won the award, she feels it’s really not just for her. It is to show others if they really want something, they can have it.
“I was on my way in to work one morning and saw a little kid walking,” she said. “I wonder if he knows he can be whatever he wants to be.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are, just work hard and you can achieve whatever you want to achieve,” she said. “I am the living proof of that.”
Clark-Thomas warned, however, everyone gets to a point where they want to give up. She said when that feeling shows up, dig deep and keep going.
“I wanted to give up,” she conceded. “I wasn’t where I felt like I should be and I start thinking I should put this sports thing to bed and concentrate on something else. But if I had given up, I would never have gotten this award.”
The lesson from that is simply never give up.
“Even when it doesn’t look like it is doing any good, if it’s something you really want, don’t quit, go get it,” she said.
Clark-Thomas will receive her 2014 Marine Female Athlete of the Year award from the Commandant of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia, Jan. 29, 2015. From there, she will travel to Washington, D.C. for a tour of the White House as a result of her achievement.