Brianna Clark has returned strong for the Starpoint softball team from an MCL tear and a surprising ACL injury.
When Brianna Clark made contact she knew it was going to go a long way, but even she could not have imagined just how far.
On April 29 Clark, a junior co-captain, carved her name into the Spartans history books when she became the first-ever player to stroke a home run over the 225-foot fence at Starpoint High School in a game against Williamsville East.
“Once I rounded first base I saw it was over and I was really excited,” said Clark.
It was the highlight of Clark’s incredible week of play that earned her the Super 7 Athlete of the Week award.
“It was really exciting,” said Clark. “I was really happy to earn that award.”
But Clark’s journey around the bases after that historic blast started long before the umpire yelled play ball.
Clark has also made a successful and inspired return to action after having ACL/MCL surgery.
But even that was far more complex than it sounds. Clark had the surgery early in her sophomore season, Sept.9,2011, but she originally sustained the ACL injury while playing basketball as a seventh grader.
Originally misdiagnosed, Clark continued forward.
As time went on, Clark’s frustration grew and grew as her knee always seemed to be giving her some level of pain or discomfort, yet there was no logical reason why it was happening.
It wasn’t until her MCL gave out that Clark would have the surgery.
“I was having problems with it all summer and it was really frustrating because I would go to the doctor and they would keep saying nothing (is) wrong with it,” Clark explained. “But I would keep having these episodes where my knee would give out and I would feel something moving.
“I tore my meniscus pitching in the backyard and I had to go to the emergency room and that’s when, after I went back to the doctor, and they gave me an MRI,” she added. “ It was really frustrating for a long time.”
Understandably nervous about going under the knife, once the surgery was a success Clark still had a long road of rehab ahead before she would be back to her old self.
Clark endured several months of intense and painful therapy.
Clark said she’d be lying if she didn’t wonder at times is it worth it. But whenever that thought crossed her mind, Clark would think of her love for softball and push even harder to get it back.
“There were some therapy appointments that were so hard that I was almost in tears,” she said. “But I knew I had to keep pushing hard to be able to get back to playing softball. I knew once I would be able to step on the field again it would all have been worth it.”
“She’s an extremely hard worker and I think she finally got to the point where she knew she had a chance to come back and it really fed her in terms of all of the doctor visits and physical therapy she had to do to get back,” said Starpoint softball coach Joe Hill.
“Clearly that’s something you have to have a desire for and if you don’t you’re not going to come back,” he added.
Her fight to return to the game also earned Clark the P.A.L. Comeback Player of the Year Award.
While crushing a homer over the 225 fence and getting an accolade like Super 7 Athlete of the Week are big thrills she’ll carry for the rest of her life, Clark’s biggest joy is the simple pleasure of being back on the diamond and playing the game she loves with the team she loves even more.
“Softball is a team sport and it’s just great to be out playing with the girls again and being able to contribute to the team,” she said.