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A 'Breathtaking' Comeback

by and on July 14, 2017 5:00 AM

The Bellefonte Little League All-Stars’ 11-1 victory over State College in the District 5 championship game was a special experience for every player on the Bellefonte team.

For one Bellefonte player, however, winning the championship — or just playing on the team for that matter — was especially moving and significant.

Bellefonte third baseman Kaden Clark had other things to think about after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor six months ago. It was an event that put literally everything in his life on hold.

“Starting in January, about halfway through the month, I was having problems with my eyes,” Clark said. “It was going on for a long time, but it really started to kick in and happened more often, like twice a day.

“So, then I went and had it checked out, and it turns out that they said I had a brain tumor. Over this one week, I went from them giving me the news to them operating on me within three or five days.

“From then on, I had no idea that I was going to play. Back in January, I could not see myself here now.”

Clark underwent surgery to remove the tumor, which proved to be non-malignant. Any surgery of this type, of course, involves many risks, but the procedure was successful.

“They had to remove the tumor,” Clark said, “and it was in the back, right above the vision center and left motor functions. If it was up more, I probably wouldn’t be able to move my left arm or leg. It was in one of the best spots it could be, because they didn’t have to remove anything out to get to it.”

After the operation, Clark was faced with a long rehabilitation process, and one of the things he began to think about was playing baseball again.

“I had to take six weeks off from doing anything,” he said, “but luckily games didn’t start for eight or nine weeks. So, I stayed off those weeks and then I started going to practice.

“People were shocked because I was just the same kid. They were expecting like a drastic change, but I came in not even thinking about it.

“I have pictures of where I was sitting in my hospital bed, and to see me back on my feet in a span of just over six months is breathtaking. I wanted to play as soon as I could and I was getting antsy. And once I started going to practice — I had to wear a skull cap inside of my hat — I went through and nothing was wrong and I was doing just fine.

“After I played in my first game, I noticed that it was just a moment in the past. I can move on from this. I kept pushing through, and now here I am.”

In the championship game itself, Clark played his usual solid third base and was 1-for-3 with a single and a walk. And, like all the other players on the Bellefonte team, he is now looking forward to competing in the upcoming sectional tournament.

“We didn’t even know if Kaden was going to play this year,” Bellefonte coach Duane Grove said. “But he’s been super at third base, and he had to wear a skull cap until just before we started practice. That’s more important than the games. Him just being on the field is just awesome to me.”



This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.


Pat Rothdeutsch covers Penn State football for The Centre County Gazette. Email him at sports@centrecountygazette.com
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