We caught up with NY1’s Roger Clark, host of this year’s The Big Swim, which is TODAY! A Queens native, he was always active in sports and loved the water. Though not a competitive swimmer, the cold weather never stopped him from jumping in the pool!
How do you feel about the water—do you enjoy swimming?
I wouldn’t say I am a competitive swimmer, but I’ve loved water since I was a little kid. I was lucky enough to go to day camps in summer and then I was a camp counselor for about seven years—until I got into broadcasting believe it or not! I could be in the pool all day. I love swimming, and I was lucky to learn at a very young age to enjoy the water.
In your time as a summer day camp counselor, you must have worked with children from a variety of areas. Did you ever find that you were introducing kids to the water?
I grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, so other than maybe a few of the more luxurious apartment buildings, there really weren’t a ton of pools around. At the time, I worked in central Queens, and we would pick the kids up in different neighborhoods around Queens and then go out to campgrounds out in Long Island where there was a nice big pool. Of course, a lot of the kids were at first apprehensive because it was their first time [around the water], but we just assured them that they were safe, and before you knew it, they were loving it and couldn’t wait to go swimming!
As you know, this year The Big Swim is focusing on more than just swimming. We are also celebrating the amazing soccer program at Asphalt Green. Support is finally showing some serious signs of growth here in the U.S. Were you ever into soccer?
I got into soccer at a late age. We used to play on the concrete schoolyard back in junior high school and used the garbage cans as goals. It used to be USA versus The World—because in my neighborhood there were people from all over the world! So we would have these great games with kids from Italy, Brazil, Iran, etc. It was almost like the World Cup! But I never played formally. When I got older I ended up joining an over-30 men’s league. I kind of miss it, but I have a 4-year-old now, and I am always running after him!
How important do you think it is to introduce kids to organized sports?
I think it is pivotal. In our family, it was always a big part of our lives. Again, I was fortunate to be able to go to camp. My mom was able to sign me up for leagues where I had good instruction and adult supervision in a safe environment (in addition to playing stickball in the schoolyard with all the other guys).
I really had the best of both worlds. And [it’s really important] to provide [those opportunities to] kids in the city who [are not able] to get involved with [organized sports]. There are also physical benefits. Not to sound like an old man here, but when we were kids, we were always at the park. We played basketball or baseball—I was never home watching TV.
Although everyone is a winner at The Big Swim, Asphalt Green does believe in a healthy amount of competition. As a reporter in one of the most competitive fields (journalism) and in the No. 1 market (NYC)—what kind of advice can you give kids that will help them deal with competition?
I think it is important to learn that you do not win all the time. Winning is great, winning is important and something to strive for, but it is more important to do your best and really put your heart into it.
That’s one thing that I hope my son gets to experience as he gets older—that he knows that competition is important, that winning is also important, but it is not the end of the world if you lose. And it should just be an incentive to try harder and make sure that you have a good time and try your best.
How did you get your start in Journalism?
I went to Syracuse University and studied broadcast journalism. Initially, I wanted to be a sportscaster but I veered off into news. I did do a little sports broadcasting when I first started, but it was all small town stuff. I knew from the beginning I wanted to do broadcasting. I always talked a lot—my dad used to call me motor mouth when I was a kid—and I was a good writer, so it just made sense. I bounced around upstate New York for some time, and it took me about 10 years to get back to NYC, and in 2001, I joined NY1.
Roger’s Fun Facts:
Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Meal: Chicken parmesan on a hero
Favorite Sport: Baseball is my first love and so are The Mets. I am true to my Orange and Blue
The dress: gold and white or blue and black? That was just one of those things on social media that I just refused to acknowledge!
One thing that you could not live without: Music. I am a big rock music fan, so if I am ever in a bad mood, I can just put on a certain song. I love rock ‘n’ roll!
Stop by Asphalt Green for The Big Swim, our free swim meet for kids ages 6 to 12, and see Roger Clark in his broadcasting element. All swimmers are winners and receive a swimming cap, medal, T-shirt and ice cream. No need to register. Just show up to get in on the fun! More details here.