Gap year with a difference

December 30, 2023

2022 College Dux Toby Clack is looking forward to hitting the books again after a whirlwind gap year in which he earned the title of Under 18 eight-ball World Champion.

It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for 2022 College Dux Toby Clack. Taking a well-earned gap year after achieving an outstanding ATAR of 99.25, Toby has added another title to his name – Under 18 eight-ball World Champion.

Toby Clack didn’t really like pool the first time he played it.

But the realisation that he could travel the world playing pool swiftly changed the then 11-year-old’s mind.

“Initially I didn’t like the game. I thought it was quite boring and I preferred outdoor sports” he confesses. 

“Then Dad told me that if you’re good enough you can travel and I was like, ‘Oh travel, I might as well get onto this’.”

Get onto it he did. In a big way.

Not long after Toby started playing competitively, he won the Under 12 Victorian Championships and later the same year went on to become runner-up at the National Titles in Darwin.

In 2019, Toby won his first Australian singles title in Launceston and in July this year – the first year Toby’s had the opportunity to compete against professionals – he was crowned World Eight-ball Under 18 champion at the World Titles in Agadir, Morocco. 

Toby with his championship trophy in Morocco.

Toby said it was a fantastic feeling to be number one. 

“It’s a big relief off my shoulders,” he said.

“I put a lot of work in, lots of practice and lots of hours, so it was good to have that payoff. Just practicing with the best (players) beforehand and being able to put it out there on the table when it mattered was a good feeling.”

Hard work and commitment appear to be second nature to Toby.

He was Dux of St Patrick’s College in 2022, achieving an outstanding ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) of 99.25. 

Toby studied six Year 12 subjects and was top of the class in all of them. Further, Toby was Dux of Biology as a Year 11 student in 2021, attaining a study score of 46.

It was an incredible result, particularly given his senior years of schooling were disrupted by Covid-19.

“It was challenging being out of the classroom and challenging not being able to see everyone as well but I still got through everything,” Toby recalls. 

“I’m quite self-motivated, so I got the work done and still did extra just like normal.”

The global pandemic aside, Toby has wonderful memories of his time at St Pat’s.

“I loved the whole experience at St Pat’s. I thought it was magnificent,” he says.

“All the teachers I had were great and very supportive and I had a great group of friends around me, so we’d have a lot of laughs outside during recess and lunch.” 

He advises current students to seize every opportunity afforded to them and make the most of their time at school.

“You’ve got the rest of your life to do all sorts of different things that you enjoy, whether it’s playing sport or gaming or catching up with friends or going to parties or whatever,” he says. 

“But you’ve only got one year to make this count so you might as well knuckle down and do the hard work just while you still can and then you don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

It’s a mindset Toby will take with him to the University of Melbourne next year when he commences his studies in Biomedical Science.

“I know it’ll be pretty difficult jumping back into reality but then again, I’ve missed the learning and it’s something I enjoy doing so I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble,” he explains. 

“St Pat’s promotes all good habits, study habits and life habits from the moment you kind of walk in on your first day so I’ll be taking that advice with me.”

Toby, who celebrated his 18th birthday under the Northern Lights in Norway, is hoping to turn his love of science into a career in which he can make a positive contribution to society.

And if Toby’s achievements to date are anything to go by, there’s little doubt that he will make it happen.

“The dream job is to manufacture vaccines and cures for different diseases so hopefully one day I’ll end up in a lab experimenting,” he says.

“I love science and I feel like it’s an area I can apply myself and make a positive difference in the world. 

“If I do 60 years of work and I save one life, then it’ll all be worth it.”