Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Booker T. Washington arts student splits time as 800-meter standout for North Dallas
Clay Stocker was thrilled when he gained admission to the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts last summer. For a gifted artist, the Dallas ISD magnet school was a great place to develop his talent.
“I really didn’t think I was going to get accepted,” he said. “It was really amazing.”
But there was one problem. Booker T. Washington doesn’t have sports teams, and Stocker was also a budding track star. As a sophomore last year at Grapevine Faith Christian, he won the Class 4A 800 meters at the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools state meet.
Fortunately for Stocker, students who attend Booker T. are eligible to play for the sports teams in their school boundary. So now Stocker is the top runner for North Dallas, although he doesn’t attend the school or practice with the team.
Stocker works out at the St. Mark’s track after the high school team finishes practice. He gets direction from his personal coach, John Turek, who coaches the St. Mark’s team that has won eight straight Southwest Preparatory Conference titles.
“Sometimes I wish I could be in one place to do everything,” Stocker said. “A lot of times, I kind of feel rushed. But it’s worth it.”
Stocker finished second to Frisco Liberty senior Brady Turnbull in the 800 at the prestigious Jesuit-Sheaner Relays last month. Turnbull (1 minute, 56.09 seconds) and Stocker (1:57.51) have the best times among Dallas-area 4A runners this year.
Stocker might not catch Turnbull this season, but he has room, and time, for improvement.
“It’s just the tip of the iceberg. He’s got huge upside,” Turek said. “He came into his own last summer, and I think that really opened his eyes to his potential.”
Stocker has potential in a lot of areas. The 18-year-old has played piano for nine years and considered auditioning for the music program at Booker T. But then he decided to apply for the art program, which includes frequent visits to the Dallas Museum of Art for studying and sketching.
He’s not planning a future as an artist, however.
“I don’t really want to go to college for art,” he said. “I want to go to business school. But in business, they’re always looking for people who are creative and have ideas.”
Stocker has some creative ideas for his art, and one of his areas of concentration is unusual. It’s tattoo art.
“I’ve designed some tattoos for my friends,” said Stocker, who doesn’t have any tattoos himself. “When I got to college, I think it could be a good side job.”
If he has time, of course. Turek believes Stocker could be a competitive college runner because he has the talent and the work ethic. Some athletes need prodding to work, Turek said, but Stocker occasionally needs a reminder to pull back.
“He’s going 100 miles per hour from the time he gets up in the morning until when he goes to bed, and he’s so talented in so many ways that everyone wants a little piece of him,” Turek said. “But you want to take all those talents and nurture them.”