Student Spotlight: Bonnie Clifton stays involved, stays successful

Tarleton State University student, Bonnie Clifton takes on being both a full-time student and a full-time athlete. The freshman from Gilmer, Texas is an agricultural services and development major with a teaching certificate.
She is also planning to be an agriscience teacher once she graduates, while possibly concentrating in ag mechanics. Clifton is not only on the women’s Track team but she is also the Student Government Association’s newly elected Athletics Congressperson, Freshman representative council, the Ag mechanics club and a part of the Tarleton Activity Board (T.A.B) .
Like many athletes, Clifton’s love for sports started at a young age with supporting parents behind her every step of the way.
“Sports have always been a big thing in my family so as soon as I was able to walk, my parents had me playing. I played Softball and Basketball until I got into junior high when we were allowed to get into a real athletics class. From there I played Volleyball, Basketball and in seventh grade my coaches introduced me to Track and I picked up a shot and disc for the first time,” Clifton said.
An interesting thing about many student athletes is that, most of the time, they get invited to the school on scholarship. One of the most interesting parts of the experience is being contacted by coaches and learning about their programs, but for Clifton , and many others in the senior 2020 class, it went a bit differently.
“It’s kinda crazy actually. My senior year of high school, our Track season got canceled because of COVID-19, so I honestly didn’t think I would have a chance of getting signed. My high school throwing coach is actually a former Tarleton thrower and threw for Coach Ponder. She gave him a call and sent him some videos of me and a couple days later I got a text from Coach Ponder telling me to expect a phone call soon,” Clifton said.
Clifton is involved on campus and holds many leadership positions. Since she is in so many of these roles it is not hard to understand why she is being recognized often for her accomplishments.
“I received the Leadership in Athletics award. It really meant a lot to me to receive this award because it shows that people are recognizing how hard I am working and how I’m trying to leave an impact here,” Clifton said.
Because she is involved in so many organizations, she is recognized often for being a student athlete. Student athletes can struggle with balancing classes and other activities but Clifton enjoys her busy lifestyle.
“I love it. I really do. It’s sometimes tough because I want to be involved in everything but I don’t have the time. I have to be diligent about time management because I lift four days a week and have practice five days a week while still having classes every day and while being involved in other clubs/organizations on campus. It’s great getting to do what I love for another four more years while still getting an education,” Clifton said.
Being on a college level team may seem like a daunting task, but it’s not always business for these Track stars. The team is tightly bonded and tends to have a lot of laughs.
“I don’t think there is a moment when we aren’t laughing. Its fun being able to make memories together while competing and doing what we love,” Clifton said.
This is something that happened continually for Bonnie. The team took her under their wing like family as soon as they knew her name.
“I got on to the team with the help of my high school coach. Once I was officially signed here, other athletes got in touch with me pretty quick and it made my transition super easy,” Clifton said.
With Tarleton going through the new transition to a Division 1 athletics program, this is a new experience for a student athlete to tackle. Along with new rules and regulations.
“We just moved up to Division 1 and there’s some setbacks that come with it. Such as, we cannot qualify for nationals until we meet a certain set of standards, so hopefully by my senior year we will be able to qualify for nationals. I also hope to break the women’s discus record here at Tarleton. I’m going to have to work harder than ever, but it’s definitely a big goal of mine,” Clifton said.
With the world still being under the influence of COVID-19, Track meets look a little different this year for college athletes. Being that they did not get to participate last year, this is a big deal to be able to have their meets happen, but just like everything else, this comes with a few catches.
“Track meets during COVID-19 are definitely different than usual. We have to get COVID-19 tested every Tuesday and checked in everyday before we’re allowed to work out or practice [but I’ve gotten pretty used to that]. Depending on where the meets are, some universities won’t let in spectators. It really sucks because ever since I played tee ball, my parents haven’t missed a game, or event that I’ve competed in and I know they want to be there,” Clifton said.
Many eyes will be watching freshman Track athlete, Clifton while she continues her schooling at Tarleton State University. Clifton is on the track to achieving her goal of overcoming the current Tarleton Record.
In order to view the Track and Field schedule as well as a current roster of athletes, you can visit