READFIELD — Julia Clukey’s decision to return to the U.S. national luge team for another year wasn’t arrived at lightly, but Alexis Everett is glad she will.

Everett was one of about 40 campers in attendance at Julia Clukey’s Camp for Girls on Tuesday when the Augusta native announced her decision to an assemblage of statewide media.

“I was hoping for her to continue,” Everett said. “It’s a good thing she’s going to be doing.”

Everett, 13, is a charter member of the camp which Clukey opened in 2012 to help inspire self-confidence and a healthy lifestyle among young girls. Clukey has served as a role model for those causes.

“She’s definitely inspired me a lot,” Everett said. “Every time I think of something, I think what would Julia do.”

Clukey missed qualifying for this winter’s Olympics by 13 thousandths of a second and there was speculation among state media that she would retire from the sport she began at age 12. Her decision, her mother Cheryl believes, wasn’t based on her failure to reach the Olympics this year.

“I think a lot of people thought that, but she’s not like that,” Cheryl Clukey said. “Julia’s really private and she took a long time to make this decision. I think she’s happy with herself.”

Clukey won a couple of races toward the end of the season, which her mother believed renewed her confidence. She had already been named to next year’s World Cup team, but her announcement Tuesday had more to do with her commitment to the sport amid factor in her personal life, including the care for her 4-year-old nephew Lucas and her pursuit of an engineering degree of which she is a couple of semesters shy.

“She’s taking three courses,” Cheryl Clukey said. “She had three finals this week. Two are down, one more to go.”

Clukey also renewed her commitment for a year to continue as a spokesperson for the Maine Beer and Wine Distributors Association. Nick Alberding of the MBWDA was confident she’d return to the national team.

“I’m not surprised she’s coming back,” Alberding said. “Her heart was broken, but Julia … she gets knocked down, she’s getting up. She’s not going to go out with a 13 thousandths of a second defeat. I think it’s more exciting to go after it again than (retire).”

Julia’s sister Amelia, a 7th grade teacher at Hall-Dale Elementary School, always believed her sister would return to luge and the national team.

“That last race in December, when she just missed it, I knew that night that she would definitely return to the sport of luge,” Amelia said. “She’s very determined and hardworking, so this is not a surprise at all.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @GaryHawkinsKJ

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