Clausen chases down a dream

Lewes resident Tim Clausen is well known for being an affable guy, a strict but good teacher and coach at Selbyville Middle School — but also as overweight.

After practice, Dairy Queen milkshakes and Domino’s delivery became a staple of his diet and lifestyle, but inside groaned a starving athlete begging to be released. He coaches football, baseball and basketball at Selbyville Middle School and one day last year he made his students a promise during a shoot-around at gym: “If I make this half-court shot, then the baseball team will go undefeated and I’ll go on NBC’s Biggest Loser 2.”

Two years prior, he made a similar bet with one of his football players and said that if he tossed a football in a trash can then the team would go undefeated. Well, the ball tickled every bit of the inside of that trash can and his football team went undefeated. This past year, Clausen nailed his half-court shot, the baseball team went undefeated and he was selected as one of 50 overweight Americans to represent his or her state in the Biggest Loser 2 reality television show.

The initial seed for trying out for the show was planted in Clausen’s mind while some of his student’s were discussing the season finale of the original “Biggest Loser,” and from there his students began needling him to tryout.

“We’re trying to push him just like he’s pushing us,” Selbyville Middle’s starting quarterback Tim Bokinsky said.

Clausen’s students didn’t just encourage him to tryout and leave it at that — no, they even helped him make his tryout tape. While everyone had fun being part of the tryout process, Clausen seemed nervously determined to be selected. He and his students staged humorous skits, but in his camera-interview, Clausen stood alone in front of the camera, politely pleading his case for becoming Delaware’s representative on the “Biggest Loser 2.”

It didn’t take long for NBC television executives to figure out that Clausen had the charisma and determination to become a contestant on their show so soon after sending in his audition tape

From state to state, city to city, NBC executives traveled and screened 250,000 potential contestants but when they saw Clausen, it didn’t take long for his charisma to shine through and that he had the determination to become season two’s “Biggest Loser.”

One week after submitting his audition tape, NBC asked him to do a follow-up camera interview and soon thereafter he was selected for the show.

“This was above my wildest dreams,” Clausen admitted. “I was getting back in shape and getting my life back.”

In 1995, Clausen played one year of collegiate baseball at Del Tech University and partook in the junior college World Series but admitted that back then, at only 165 pounds, he didn’t quite have the power a collegiate third baseman should have and was used primarily as a pinch runner.

“It’s kind of ironic,” Clausen said.

For the past nine years, Clausen’s taught social studies at Selbyville Middle and packed on the pounds — nearly 100 since his playing days and the weight gained bumped him into the morbidly obese category. He won an incentive ice cream sandwich eating contest and was dubbed “King Klondike,” but even though his work environment caused him to gain weight then, now everyone is trying to help him lose it.

“Everyone in the district has been really supportive,” Clausen said. “From the district office on down everyone has been great.

“Having so many people supporting you really helps,” he added.

And now’s the time he needs it. Clausen was one of 36 contestants sent home to continue their workout regiment on their own — and with the amount of weight he’s already lost, he could be brought back to the show.

Fourteen contestants currently are still out at the health ranch, equipped with teams of doctors and specialists, high tech gizmos and constant supervision, but two contestants — one male and one female — will be brought back to compete for the $250,000 based on how much weight they’ve lost since starting the show.

When he returned to teach at Selbyville for the 2006 school year, Clausen said that “everyone’s mouths dropped.”

They couldn’t believe how much weight he lost. Now, at first glance you might mistake him for a Marine or Navy Seal (I, literally, didn’t recognize him).

Now Clausen wakes up every morning and runs 5 and 1/2 miles before heading to school, he’s limited his daily calorie intake to a healthy 1,450-1,600 by trading his favorite 1,000-calorie milkshakes for lean chicken breast and salads, runs another mile during his lunch hour (runs it in 6:29) and then runs sprints with his players. Football is a tough game and a couple hours of practice can take its toll on them, but so does everything Clausen has been doing. Clausen not only keeps up with his youthful charges, but now he can out-leg them in a 100 yard dash to conclude practice.

“I’m an athlete and if there’s a competition or a game, I’m going to win it,” he said.

“It’s all about eating healthy now,” Clausen said. “I still eat pizza on the weekends, but the difference is that I don’t eat pizza during the day and then again at night. One day isn’t going to kill you.”

Even if Clausen isn’t selected to compete for the prize money, he’s certainly set a great example for his students, and is no means a loser.

“He always pushes us to succeed and is always teaching us new things all the time. He knows how to break it [information] down and makes it fun. Plus he’s given us inspiration,” Bokinsky said. “That’s why we want to do it [go undefeated this football season] for him. How many undefeated football coaches win the “Biggest Loser [2]?”

“He’s shown us that if we work hard then good things will happen,” Selbyville student and baseball player Max Wilkinson said. “And that’s been kind of motivational.”

And if nothing else, that’s what Clausen wants.

“Hopefully, I can prove that overweight people can go home [to workout] and be just as successful [as at the workout ranch in California],” Clausen said. “And hopefully I can inspire the nation.”

The season two finale of “The Biggest Loser 2” will air Dec. 13 and since Clausen can’t tell you what he weighs now, you’ll just have to tune in and find out just how much weight he’s really lost.