by Alexis Lahr
Many students seem to struggle with juggling school and extra curricular activities. University of La Verne star athlete Crystal Marks has managed to do it all by successfully balancing academics, sports, modeling and a social life.
Marks, 20, is a junior transfer student, who grew up in Redding, California and attended Shasta Community College for two years before transferring to ULV last fall.
Marks discovered ULV when she filled out a track questionnaire and was contacted by track coach, Pat Widolff. Marks said Widolff contacted her frequently about coming to ULV. She met with him and diving coach Toby Reclusado on a campus visit and decided that ULV was the best school for her since it had both of her majors and would allow her to play two sports.
Marks recently competed in the diving conference championships that took place Feb. 21-23 in Cerritos. On the first day of the championships, Marks went into the three-meter competition ranked first, which she said made her feel a little pressured. However, she won the competition and went on to compete again the next day. She won again on Friday, this time by only one tenth of a point.
“I felt like I got a gold medal,” she said.
According to Marks, the conference championships were “a perfect end to the season.” The week before the championships, she also qualified for Nationals.
At this point Marks said the highlight of the diving season was the conference championships. She set a goal at the beginning of the season to win conference and go to nationals.
“I’m in the process of meeting my goal,” she said. For next season, Marks wants to break her conference records and become an All-American. “I want to do it and do it right,” she said.
So far she enjoys the ULV diving program. She knew about the program before she came here and also knew coach Reclusado. She had high hopes for him as a coach and “he exceeded all my expectations.”
Marks started diving her first year of college. Although she was a gymnast for seven years growing up, she said she always wanted to try diving, but did not have many opportunities.
Her chance finally came the summer before she started college when she discovered a diving class at a junior college. “It’s 115 degrees in the summer. I want to be in the water,” she joked. Marks became successful in diving so quickly that it motivated her to keep competing.
Diving is not Marks’ only activity. She is also on the track and field team and competes in pole vault, javelin and short hurdles. This is her seventh year competing in this sport.
According to her teammates, Marks is a great athlete and teammate.
“As a teammate you can see her determination and drive,” said swimmer Katie Aimone. She said Marks has a great attitude and is “always ready to have fun.”
Track and field teammate Brandon Tedrow said Marks is “always willing to help people and encourage everyone.”
In addition to athletics, Marks is also a double major in public administration and economics. She said her ultimate goal is to work in the White House or to be governor of California and studying public administration is a good stepping-stone to get there. As far as economics, she feels it is important to have vast knowledge of the subject.
Marks is also a model. She credits her modeling career to “being in the right place at the right time.” Marks got her first chance at modeling during her time at junior college. She was dating a model and went with him to a fitting for Miller’s Outpost/Anchor Blue. Two female models had cancelled and Marks was asked to fill their places. “It was unbelievable,” she said.
Since then Marks has done several different modeling jobs. She went to the British Virgin Islands and did a photo shoot for the March issue of Outside Magazine. She was also in a Michael Bolton video as a cowgirl and missed the first week of school to go to Florida for a photo shoot for Abercrombie and Fitch.
Marks said that modeling is very humbling. She said it “should be ego boosting” to be a model, but it can be just the opposite when surrounded by 10-15 gorgeous women. Marks added that it can be hard when agents want models to lose weight to look a certain way. For her, losing weight means losing the strength she has worked hard to build for athletics. As far as the actual shoots, “it’s the easiest job,” she said. “Who wouldn’t want to get paid for it?”
Marks does not have a preference among all of her various activities. For her, they are all fun, and that is why she is at ULV, “so I don’t have to choose.”
As far as her greatest accomplishment so far, Marks said it is the little things. For instance, she made the Dean’s List last semester and won SCIAC Athlete of the Week for the week ending Feb. 24.
One might think that Marks might be completely stressed, however her attitude is very positive. She feels that if she wakes up happy, she has been successful. “Everyone has bad stuff in life. If they have no good stuff, then they need to work harder,” she said.
Marks encourages everyone to have a positive attitude stating, “Stick to what you’re good at and if you’re not happy, change something.”