Being good at a sport is tough and being the best at it takes a lot of talent. Not only is Lancer runner Breanna Clark one of the best in Southern California at what she does, but she also has to overcome an obstacle not many other runners have to take on; autism.
Clark has no problem blowing by the competition and recently came in first place in the women’s 400-meter race at the Redlands Invitational Saturday. However, some of the more routine parts of running can sometimes prove challenging for her.
“Some challenges I had to overcome were pumping my arms and opening my strides and such,” Clark said.
Rosalyn Clark, Breanna’s mother said that she was very proud of what Breanna was doing.
“I want people to know that autism is not a death sentence,” Rosalyn Clark said. “These people who have autism can function. Breanna knows that she has a disability. If I were to pretend that everything was OK and not have talked about it with her, I would be doing her a disservice.”
Track and field head coach Cedric Hill said that Clark was inspirational and motivational to watch run. He said that she was one of the most positive people he knew.
“Clark brings a passion for this sport,” Hill said. “She has a work ethic that is unparalleled to any other individual. She does exactly what is asked of her out on the track.”
Breanna said that the thing she likes most about running is just being out exercising.
“It makes me feel kind of strong,” Clark said. “It keeps me fit, and all. Coming here to PCC helped me improve.”
Clark has taken a strong liking to music and that she listens to certain types of music before getting to an event, helping her focus on the task at hand.
“I play the song in my head when I’m running,” Clark said. “Certain parts of the song make me pick up the pace in a race.”
When she is not running, Clark said that it’s her love for music that takes her other time when she isn’t doing homework. She said that she can play music by ear.
“I sing, I dance and I play the piano,” Clark said. “I play tunes by ear. When I’m not running, I always listen to music for fun. I just hear a song and try to repeat it on the piano.”
Rosalyn Clark said that she would tell other parents who had children with autism to reach out and try to find a support group. She said that a better understanding of autism could help a parent be a better advocate for their child.
“I think that Breanna helps other athletes and students here at PCC,” she said. “When they reach out to help her, I think they in turn find out there is a lot they can learn from her strengths, especially those students who have siblings or other family members with autism.”