Cameron Clarke’s goal was just to make it back on the field to coach his soccer team again. He didn’t care if that meant he was relegated to a wheelchair, so long as he was back coaching.
He certainly didn’t expect to be running drills while pacing around the field just a year after a pool injury left him with severe neck and spinal injuries.
“It’s truly a blessing just to be up moving around and walking,” Clarke told Albuquerque ABC affiliate KOAT. “I wasn’t willing to think I’m not going to walk again.”
He didn’t think it, and it didn’t happen. Instead, spurred on by his three young children, Clarke leapt into rehab, forced his way through arduous progress, eventually added sentimental tattoos to his calf, and, eventually, found himself upright and walking less than a year after his injury. Fast forward a few weeks — 53 since the accident, to be exact — and Clarke was leading his Cibola boys soccer team through preseason drills.
The Albuquerque Journal goes into far more depth on Clarke’s injury — which came when he dove off the roof of his house into his family’s backyard pool — and his recovery. That includes 11 dark weeks spent at a rehabilitation hospital in Denver and a lengthy recovery at home in a wheelchair as he continued re-learning how to walk, all in an effort to defy doctors’ predictions that he would spend the rest of his life as a quadriplegic.
His players have been understandably impressed with his determination. Clarke is just happy his assumption that he wouldn’t walk again was wrong.
“He’s had to relearn how to walk and everything,” Cibola junior Matt Berlint told the Journal. “He showed us what he has inside him. It could have ended his life, but he’s back like nothing happened.”
“It’s been a long, tough road,” Clarke said. “I never figured I would walk again. And I still don’t know if it (coming back to coaching) is gonna work.”
He’s come this far, and is not going to yield ground now.
“I think that determination will get you through anything,” Clarke said, as he pondered what lesson was gleaned from all of this. “I have a lot to be thankful for. You have to be thankful for everything you get.”