DUBOIS (D9/EYT) – Some people remember high school or college as their “glory days.”
While there are certainly many great memories and times to take away from her four years at Clarion University, DuBois native Ashley McCluskey without a question faced some of the toughest days of her life during her college years.
Losing a loved one of any kind at any age is something never easy to talk about or experience, and for McCluskey, it surely is not any different. In the spring of 2020 as the world was in lockdown from COVID-19, and after her junior year of track and field was canceled with the Golden Eagles, she also faced another hardship and hurdle in her life: her longtime boyfriend and Clarion University wrestler, Shae Bloom, passed away tragically at the age of just 22.
A subject like this will likely always remain a tender one for McCluskey. She called Bloom “the most important person in her life,” but the former Lady Beaver standout in track and field and volleyball has decided that Bloom would have wanted to see her chase her dreams and continue to live her life to the fullest.
“April 16th, 2020, the day my world stopped, the day I lost the most important person in my life, Shae Bloom. Losing the one you love is something you never fully recover from, you just kind of learn how to live with it.
“Losing Shae (Bloom) has turned me into such a strong person, more than I ever thought was possible. If anyone knew Shae at all, they would know that he lived life to the fullest every single day; maybe even a little bit too much some days,” McClusky said. “I thank God for how blessed I am to have loved and learned from Shae during the many years I got to spend with him. I will cherish all the memories and lessons close to my heart for the rest of my life.”
As can be expected, trying to live life to the fullest has to be something that is easier said than done sometimes after a chance like this, but she has tried her best to put her best foot forward and has found her next chapter which is striving to become a registered nurse and achieving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. McCluskey will be starting an accelerated nursing program at the beginning of 2022 that will allow her to become a nurse in just around another year’s time. With this in mind, she hopes to become a travel nurse.
For someone who entered her freshman year as an early childhood education major, she has changed her mind a little bit on what she would like her career to look like. However, knowing she wanted to help people has never wavered. She officially completed a degree from Clarion University in May of 2021 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Fitness. This degree will give McCluskey a solid foundation that will help her to become a successful nurse in about a year and a half from now.
With many changes in her life over the last year and a half, her passion and talents as an athlete have remained constant. As a high schooler, the Clearfield County product won multiple team MVP awards and was selected multiple times as a District 9 All-Star. She is also a former MVP for the Lady Beavers track and field program, was named the programs Rookie of the Year in 2014, and also was a two-time District 9 champion and state meet participant in javelin.
In college with the Golden Eagles of Clarion University, she went on to become a two-time Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Outdoor Track and Field Championships qualifier and was a medalist in one of those two meets. There is also a side note that is important to mention about her time as a thrower and that is she did not even start the sport of track and field until the 11th grade.
Looking back at her time as a college athlete, McCluskey said: “Being a college athlete has given me the opportunity to build forever friendships and create memories that will last a lifetime.”
She also took full advantage of her time at Clarion University and was able to volunteer with the athletic department in a variety of ways and even has served as a fitness instructor in the past – experiences she says have helped her learn how to work with and meet a variety of different people.
Some people who have made a positive impact on her life since 2017 are her former track and field coaches at Clarion including her head coach Ben Bevevino.
“They made the transition to college track and field extremely easy,” said the former D9 javelin champion. “Clarion was the right fit because of that and because it was a good distance to home.”
Going to Clarion also meant the opportunity to continue going to school alongside her best friend since preschool, Katie Zamersoski, who is also a former student-athlete for the Golden Eagles softball program. Her friendship with Zameroski and the relationships and love from her family members Dan McCluskey, Tracy McCluskey, Lauren McLaughlin, and her late boyfriend Shae Bloom is who she all credits for helping her become the young woman she is today.
Looking back on the last year and a half, the world has changed a lot. We are still navigating and digging ourselves out of difficult times. Each of us has to remain strong similar to how Ashley McCluskey has chosen to be during tough recent times in her life. She has found a passion for health care and is ready to embark on a journey soon that can help so many people live healthier lives. Her perseverance is something we can all admire and learn from and our people whether with us or past are watching over us and want us to live our lives to the fullest.