LCS playing field

Raider Sean Clinkscales – The making of a great defensive back

Sean Clinkscales

When did you start playing sports and what sports have you played?

I started playing sports at a pretty young age. I played baseball, basketball, and soccer originally until second grade when I started playing football instead of soccer. Then I stopped playing baseball in fourth grade and picked up track in sixth grade. I eventually stopped basketball after my eighth-grade season to focus more on football and track.

Is football number one?

Football is my number one sport. Once I started playing football I fell in love with the sport and never looked back.

When did you start playing organized sports?

I started playing organized sports with soccer and tee-ball if you truly count that as organized. In reality it’s just kids running around not knowing what they are doing, but that’s when I was first on a team for a sport.

When did defense become your specialty?

Defense became my specialty my sophomore season. All through youth and freshman year I thought of myself more as an offensive player until the opportunity for me to play varsity came up and I took it. I only started playing safety my freshman year so I wasn’t too experienced at that position, but I was just happy to be able to be on the varsity squad in a position that I loved.

What does it take to be a good defensive back?

To be a good defensive back is all technique and experience. Most people think defensive backs need to have crazy speed, but in reality, good technique can make up for a big speed difference. Also experience helps a lot because with defensive backs, they need to react to a lot of different situations so experience at the position will go a long way and just keep you comfortable during the play.

Who worked with you on those skills?

Coach Rick Dubois helped me with all my defensive back skills. Before coming to high school, I had only played running back and linebacker. In my past two years I have learned a lot from him and I still have two more years to learn even more. 

Talk about your track accomplishments including how you train for Indoor Track. 

I started sprinting in the outdoor track season of my freshman year. I ran distance and middle distance all through middle school. After the middle school cut sports after my sixth-grade year, I started doing track through Litchfield Track Club coached by Dave Driscoll. In seventh grade I finished 8th in the 1600m and 6th in 800m in the Middle School Championship and 14th in 800m in the 13/14 age division at the regionals for Junior Olympics. In eighth grade I finished 8th in the 800m for the 15/16 age division in regionals for Junior Olympics.  I started sprinting my Freshman year during the outdoor season. I competed in the 4×8, 200m, 4×4, and sometimes the 100m. I qualified for states in the 200m and placed 30th out of 56.

How have you dealt with the cancelation of Spring Sports due to Covid-19 and how did you keep your focus on grades?

I kept a consistent schedule everyday which included getting all my schoolwork done in the morning. I continued to work out and although I was upset about track season, I saw it as an opportunity to train harder for football season. 

Nobody knows how school and sports are going to shake out this fall. How are you preparing for what is coming?

I am prepared for any situation this season. I am hoping to play in the fall but I’m prepared to play in the spring but I really just want to have a season. I’m going to go week to week and hope the season just works out.  I’m not too worried about school because I didn’t do too bad in the spring when we went online so if we go online again it wouldn’t be too bad.

What are your future plans?

My future plans consist of me going to college and hopefully playing football at a high level. Although my dream is to play football professionally, I am aware that that is unrealistic. After my playing days are over, I would like to continue in a career that keeps me close to sports and athletics.

What does it mean to you to be a Raider?

To me being a Raider means to be proud of my community, school and the strong brotherhood within my football team. When I played youth football for the Torrington Warriors, I remember coming to high school games and looking up to the players and just looking forward to being able to play on Friday nights and be involved in the traditions that follow the team. 

Talk about your coaches.

Coach Rod (Gaitan Rodriguez or the Rod-Father) cares about the whole team and really wants everyone to succeed on and off the field. He works really hard to make sure everyone leaves this program with more than just knowledge of the game. He wants everyone on our team to develop into a quality person. 

Coach Rusty (Rich Elliott) knows how to get us pumped up and ready for a lift or workout. He can always get you to push that five extra pounds on your bench, and also get you ready for game day.

Coach Dubois can break down all the techniques and form I need to work on and can explain everything in an easy to understand way. He is also always positive and can make rough times not feel so bad.

Coach (Kevin) Caruso always had the best speeches and could give some of the best advice. Before one of our games one day we were watching the soccer game before us and we just talked about the future and life in adulthood. He’s able to bring his past experiences and make them into life lessons.

Coach (Jimmy) Hoyt never coached any of my positions but we still had fun in practices and I would always challenge him to a race even though he never accepted.

Coach (Michael) Ciesco also never coached any of my positions but was always positive during practices and was able to help me with defensive schemes during practices. 

I am really fortunate to have a good group of coaches coaching me and everyone else on my team.

More stories by Timothy W. Gaffney.

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