PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles senior Teagan Clark ran down her dream to play college softball with the same enthusiasm she brings to the pitching circle or when she chases down fly balls in the outfield.
Clark and family celebrated Tuesday when she signed a letter of intent to play softball for Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon.
Held at arm’s length by the pandemic, which wiped out her sophomore softball season, Clark kept working on her skills and fitness level training alongside her hard-working older brother Dru, now a member of the Peninsula College men’s basketball team.
She also was part of a group of area athletes that advocated for a return to fields, courts and mats when health experts and government officials decided to throw up roadblocks along the way to 2020-21 seasons.
Clark said she learned a valuable lesson while researching her athletic options.
“At the beginning, when I was first researching, I saw that athletes were getting a COVID year [of extra eligibility] and giving people extra years, but I got encouragement that the worst a school or coach could tell me was, ‘No.’
“And that made me focus more on the experience I wanted to have. I wanted to make sure it was a good environment.”
Any fears melted away with the warm reception she received from Skagit Valley coach Lisa Bennett and her future teammates.
“I really liked the coaches and how welcoming they were to me when I went and visited,” Clark said. “There was a real team atmosphere, but it also felt like a family. They have definitely spent time doing team bonding there, and it reminded me of playing for Port Angeles.”
Clark worked out on one of the Cardinals’ four artificial turf softball fields and impressed Bennett.
“Her desire to be a part of something bigger than herself and want to be a part of our Skagit Valley softball family stood out,” Bennett said. “As a softball player, it is clear that Teagan loves the game and wants to put in a tremendous amount of work to be her best.
“Teagan will make a huge impact on the mound and be able to help us win games through her contributions in the circle. I am excited about Teagan’s ability to produce on the mound and also at the plate. It is great to have a pitcher who can help the team on both sides.”
Her Port Angeles softball coach Randy Steinman said he told Clark how proud he was of her efforts.
“She persevered through all of it, and I’m proud of what she did,” Steinman said. “She’s a confident competitor, and having those two traits, especially on the mound, makes her especially difficult. You aren’t going to sneak up on Teagan.
“And I said, ‘SV is great, glad to have the signing out of the way, but don’t forget, you’ve got one more year in the green and white with Roughriders softball.’
“And with another year of high school to keep improving, I know how hard she works and how bad she wants it, so I think she’ll shock them even more.
“My dream for her next year is to take her team to the NWAC Championship and face Lower Columbia where Jada [Cargo-Acosta] is playing, and we can watch them together.”
Clark thanked her mom Tasha and dad Dustin at her ceremony.
“I thanked my mom and my dad for their encouragement throughout my sports career,” Clark said. “My siblings for always getting me to work hard and inspire me in more ways than I can count. And my coaches for encouraging me, especially Randy [Steinman] and Lauren [Lunt]. And my friends for supporting me and making sure I was up emotionally.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected]