Heavy-Hearted Hero

A running back’s story of smiling through his struggles

by Published: Nov 20, 2013

Kitwana Clark is a redshirt freshman tailback for the Ferris State Bulldogs and is loved by coaches and fellow teammates. Kitwana has worked hard to get where he is today and continues to work even harder, both on the field and off. Due to health issues Kitwana’s mom wasn’t always able to make all his games until high school, but he still sees her as his biggest inspiration and the sport of football and brought them closer together. Courtesy Photo Provided By: Kitwana Clark

Kitwana Clark is a red­shirt fresh­man tail­back for the Ferris State Bulldogs and is loved by coaches and fel­low team­mates. Kitwana has worked hard to get where he is today and con­tin­ues to work even harder, both on the field and off. Due to health issues Kitwana’s mom wasn’t always able to make all his games until high school, but he still sees her as his biggest inspi­ra­tion and the sport of foot­ball and brought them closer together.
Courtesy Photo Provided By: Kitwana Clark

Red-shirt fresh­man tail­back Kitwana Clark is run­ning toward suc­cess in col­lege foot­ball with a pur­pose. That pur­pose is family.

Clark is unde­cided in major but inter­ested in inte­grated stud­ies with empha­sis on per­form­ing arts.

The 5–8 fresh­man grew up in the projects of Grand Rapids with­out his bio­log­i­cal father around to help raise him. His mother, Sonae Clark, bat­tles severe chronic nerve pain and arthri­tis, but was still able to raise Kit and his six sib­lings in a happy fam­ily home.

“My mom is one of my biggest inspi­ra­tions,” Clark said. “Growing up my mom had and still has a lot of health prob­lems; in fact she almost passed away around my birth­day in 2005. She is one of the strongest women I know and I couldn’t imag­ine my life with­out her.”

Because of her health prob­lems, Clark’s mother couldn’t attend his games all the way through mid­dle school. When Clark hit high school she was able to finally watch her son play on the grid­iron for the first time dur­ing his fresh­man year, solid­i­fy­ing the impor­tance that foot­ball had between them.

Clark went on to have great suc­cess as a run­ning back at Kenowa Hills High School and fin­ished out his career as a Knight with 1,740 rush­ing yards and 21 touch­downs his senior year.

“What [Sonae] instilled in him is a love for the game, and she made sure he did the best that he can do,” Kenowa Hills head foot­ball coach, Scott VanEssen, said. “He was a kid that wanted to get bet­ter and get him­self stronger. He did all the things nec­es­sary to play at the next level.”

His per­for­mances through­out high school earned him recruit­ment from schools like Western Michigan and Central Michigan University. Despite being lured by Division I schools, Clark chose the crim­son and gold as his next foot­ball adventure.

“He is a great ath­lete, and we thought it would take him a cou­ple years to get accli­mated to the offense, but he actu­ally ended up lit­er­ally dom­i­nat­ing on scout team,” Ferris State run­ning backs coach Brad Corpe said. “He is going to have a very bright future here, and he has the abil­ity to be one of the bet­ter run­ning backs that’s ever played here. He is a true Bulldog, through and through.”

Corpe, who pre­vi­ously was a coach for Forest Hills Central High School, coached against Clark in high school and now has the for­tune to guide the young tal­ent to suc­cess as a Bulldog.

To go along with Clark’s demeanor on the field, he may be one of the most inter­est­ing char­ac­ters off of it, as he is a strong enthu­si­ast of per­form­ing arts and actu­ally teaches dance. His “happy-go-lucky” atti­tude and con­stant smiles have led to many of his fel­low team­mates grav­i­tat­ing toward his personality.

“He is like my lit­tle brother now,” junior run­ning back Jamaal Jackson said. “He is a cool cat, and he’s weird but well– rounded. He’s a foot­ball player, a dancer, an actor in plays and he raps and sings. I would go to war any day with him by my side because I know he is the type of guy that would give every­thing he has for you.”

With three years of eli­gi­bil­ity still left for him to play foot­ball, Clark cer­tainly has a bright future ahead of him, but remem­bers where he comes from.

“In foot­ball I want to reach the top, and at the end of my career have peo­ple remem­ber me as a player who gave all the glory to God and was in it for the right rea­sons,” Clark said. “My mom has sup­ported me in foot­ball and every­thing I do. I am proud of her.”

 
 
  • Etossi

    So proud of my lil bro! Your doing grrrreat :-) ily♥
    Etossi

  • Sarah

    that’s my bestie right there! went to high school with him and ended up going to the same col­lege!! i am beyond proud of who he has become within this short amount of time. i love you kitwana (:

  • karima

    That is a won­der­ful story and he’s mother is a won­der­ful person/ mother go kitwana:)