By Erik Vollenweider | LSU Student
Where do outstanding athletes go after their time at LSU if the pros aren't in the picture?
Back to school and white-collar professional careers, if two Tiger female standouts are any indication.
For more than 18 years, the only number on Ashleigh Clare-Kearney's mind was 10 – that being the highest score a gymnast could earn in a single event.
Now the only number on Clare-Kearney's mind is 156, the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) score needed to be accepted into Louisiana State University's School of Law.
"Ultimately I want to be a sports agent and have my own agency that represents athletes across the country," Clare-Kearney said.
During her career at LSU Clare-Kearney became the first Tiger to win two national championships in a single season on both the vault and floor routines. Clare-Kearney also finished her career with four perfect 10s on the vault.
"It was a bitter sweet feeling, I had ample warning, but I just got cut off cold turkey," the two-time All-American said. "I went out there at nationals. I just knew that I had nothing left. I left it all out on there on the floor."
The accolades and accomplishments are now behind Clare-Kearney and she is hoping to use her time at LSU to vault her into personal and professional successes.
"To this day, I miss it. I always will miss it," Clare-Kearney said. "My life at LSU was very demanding; to juggle the academics, athletics and community service but in the long it taught me a lot and it built character."
Sharing the spotlight with Clare-Kearney at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center was another athlete looking to make a similar mark on her community, former women's basketball play Ashley Thomas.
Thomas started 92 games at LSU and was a part of four Tiger teams that made it to the Final Four. She also excelled off the court, earning three SEC Academic All-American honors.
Thomas plans to graduate from LSU in May with an MBA degree; however, she also does not want to leave the sports world. She says that one day she wants to coach, but not on the collegiate level where the pressure is something she does not wish to deal with.
"I want to open up my own basketball skill training facility to help out young kids," Thomas said. "I've learned so much during my years playing; why not help someone else learn the things that I've learned, sharing the knowledge that I've gained playing for the great coaches I've had at LSU."
Thomas turned down opportunities to play basketball overseas to stay in school.
"I knew I did not want to be that far from my family, I have friends that play over there and just talking to them and they cannot wait to get back home," Thomas said. "It would definitely have been a fun experience, but I knew I had things to care of here."
Clare-Kearney knew her time at LSU was likely the end of her gymnastics career. She said that this knowledge helped her to work even harder off the mat while she was at LSU.
"It was probably better that I knew that after college my gymnastics career was over," Clare-Kearney said. "It really makes you buckle down with your academics because that is what will get you through."
"No one can take your education away from you. There is not much difference between being in school and playing basketball," Thomas said. "You still have to focus and study things you need to improve on, no matter what you have to give it your all in either situation."