A blessing, not a burden; Clark thrives despite life-long battle with cerebral palsy

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EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – Franklin pitcher Dylan Clark had his senior season cut short by COVID-19, just like every other high school athlete in the nation.

To be sure, it’s unfortunate, but clark has persevered through plenty of adversity his entire life, so he’s used to seeing things glass half full.

At first glance, Clark is just another kid playing baseball, and that’s the way he likes it.

“If you want to go out and do something, you should do it,” Clark said.

He should know; nothing in his life has come easy. But as a senior, he willed his way on to Franklin’s varsity.

“He was one of our better pitchers this year,” said Franklin head coach Ruben Munoz.

His life’s story makes his 1.23 ERA in the Cougars’ shortened 2020 campaign incredible. Clark was born with cerebral palsy, a muscular disorder that inhibits his ability to move the right side of his body. It affects two percent of the population and many who are afflicted require a cane or a wheel chair. Clark’s case is mild, but his challenges haven’t been.

He’s always had a hard doing things that might be easier to another kid,” said his father, David Clark.

Dylan struggles with balance and mobility, which makes his development as a baseball player most impressive. He struggles with depth perception and had to teach himself over many long years to catch on the right side of his body.

“It took me six, seven, eigh years to learn how to catch on this side. If I think it’s here, it’s actually here. So I had to train my brain to correct itself,” said Clark.

As a freshman, Clark was Franklin’s pitcher of the year. He threw a no-hitter at the JV level before showing out for a short time on varsity. Clark isn’t the hardest thrower; his fastball tops out around 75 miles per hour. What he lacks in velo, the lefty makes up for with his mind. He’s a master of command and thinking his way through an at-bat.

“He throws strikes and he’s very knowledgable about the game,” said Munoz. “He’s a throwback kid who knows a lot about baseball and he’s a very good teammate as well.”

Now, he’s getting an opportunity at the collegiate level. Next spring Clark will be a student assistant for Sam Houston State, implementing analytics with the Bearkats’ pitching staff.

“I feel like this will help me and I want to stay around the game,” Clark said. “I want to coach so I think this will give me the best opportunity to do that.”

Over the last decade, Sam Houston has been one of the best mid-majors in college baseball, advancing to the 2017 Super Regionals. Clark’s potential to grow in the piney woods is unlimited.

“He’s come a long way. If anyone deserves something like this it’s definitely him,” said Munoz.

With dreams of being a high school coach, Clark hopes to inspire people like him.

“A lot of people that have what I have think of it as a burden and I think of it as a blessing. If you want to go out and be the next great pitcher with cerebral palsy, all you have to do is put your mind to it and put in the effort,” said Clark.

For Dylan Clark, that’s just a day in the life.

“When he was born, I had a friend who’s kid was afflicted with cerebral palsy,” said David Clark, holding back tears. “He told me that what God takes away in muscle, he give’s them in heart. And that’s what Dylan has; he has heart.”

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