Claudine Smith’s first race was against a neighborhood German Shepherd.
“I was about 5, and I was scared of dogs,” she said. “The German Shepherd approached me, and I just started running. I ran around my trampoline three times. The dog didn’t catch me. I took off like a tiger or lion was chasing me. That’s the first time I figured out I was fast.”
Now an Atlantic City High School senior, she is one of the state’s top track and field athletes, excelling in the high hurdles, triple jump and long jump.
Smith has won a total of six Cape-Atlantic League and Atlantic County championships, five South Jersey titles and one state championship in her outdoor track and field career as well as the 55-meter hurdles at the indoor track and field Meet of Champions in February.
She will compete Friday and Saturday in the South Jersey Group IV championships at Washington Township.
“It feels crazy that we’re in championship season now,” she said. “I feel like I had a really great career. I just want to do well and keep pushing myself to (achieve) my goals. I want to make my last season great. “
Smith, 17, lives in Egg Harbor Township and attends Atlantic City as a choice student. She will continue her track career at Rutgers University.
In a telephone interview Tuesday night, she discussed several topics, including her future career plans.
On how she got started
My dad got me started. He was my first coach when I was at Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Atlantic City. He volunteered, and I started in the first grade. He wanted to give back to the school. I just liked running, and I was pretty fast. They started calling me “track star” from a young age.
On her involvement in other sports
I was a multi-sport kid growing up. I did everything. Gymnastics was my main sport. I started that in third grade and did it until eighth grade. I also did dance. I did intramural basketball and volleyball. I did field hockey for my first two years of high school. I did soccer too.
On attending A,C.H.S.
It’s a really great school to go to. You see many different types of faces. Mostly everyone there is friendly. The teachers are helpful.
On her relationship with her parents, Claude and Carla
Growing up I had a lot of support from my parents. They were always there for me. They’re a little strict. They’ve inspired me to be humble, maintain discipline and be nice to everybody.
On what she does to relax
Usually when I’m home in the summer, I like riding my bike around the neighborhood. I like social media a lot. I’m a public relations type of person. I love photography. I like to take pictures and post (on social media). I also like trying on clothes. I’m sort of a fashionista.
On what she plans to study at Rutgers and career plans
I’ve always wanted to go into the education field, whether it’s teaching or becoming a counselor or principal. My favorite subject is history, so I’ll probably major in that. But I’m also a sports person. I thought about (studying) sports management too, because I’d like to maybe be an athletic director.
Who is your favorite athlete and why?
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price. She’s a cute personality in the track. She’s cute, but at the same time she’s powerful when it comes to running.
What was the last movie you saw in the theater?
“Five Feet Apart”
Favorite food to order when out for dinner
Something with shrimp — shrimp with pasta, shrimp with rice
What was the last book you read?
“Makes Me Wanna Holler”