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Chosen Family

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Chosen Family

Valerie Johnson

Senior outfielder McKenzie Clark’s life is a beautiful testament to the power of love and family. Born in Minnesota, she was adopted as a newborn by Brian and Carrie Clark, who couldn’t have children of their own. From the very beginning, her parents and older brother, Hunter, provided her with unwavering support and nurtured her passion for softball. This season, she enters her senior year as the starting centerfielder for a program entering its fifth season that has reached unparalleled milestones that she helped build the foundation for. Her journey is a heartwarming example of how family isn’t just about blood but about choosing to love someone unconditionally, no matter the circumstances.

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McKenzie’s journey began when she was adopted as a newborn. Brian and Carrie, who had adopted McKenzie’s older brother, Hunter, two years prior, made the journey from Florida to Minnesota to expand their family further. Brian and Carrie were willing to embrace the ups and downs that came with adopting two children to make their family complete.

From an early age, McKenzie wanted to do everything her brother was doing, including spending time at the diamond. Hunter and her parents were instrumental in developing her love for the sport. They spent countless hours at the field, cheering her on and providing guidance. Her dad and mom weren’t just her parents, but they became her coaches and mentors, helping her develop the skills and determination needed to excel in softball.

McKenzie’s journey in softball wasn’t without its challenges. The game demands dedication, hard work and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Yet, with the unconditional support from her family, she honed her skills and developed into an outstanding athlete. She had a hunger to win inside of her, and her parents showed her how to harness that hunger and passion into success.

Ultimately, McKenzie’s talent and dedication led her to a pivotal decision – the opportunity to play collegiate softball at Clemson University. Her choice to become a Tiger was a deeply personal one, a decision that reflected her character and the values instilled in her by her family. In a beautiful parallel to her own life, just as her parents chose her as their daughter, she chose Clemson as her new family and home.

The bond that was formed between McKenzie and her parents, who have always been there to lift her up and celebrate her successes, is the same bond she found at Clemson with her coaches and teammates. McKenzie’s own choice to join the Clemson community allowed her to foster her passion and etch her name into Clemson Softball’s history.

A reminder that family isn’t solely defined by genetics; it’s defined by love, support, and the conscious choice to stand by each other’s side. Her remarkable journey to her senior year at Clemson showcases the transformative power of love and determination and serves as an inspiration to all who watched her grow and succeed in the sport she loves.

My mom and dad have done an amazing job of teaching me to be the woman I am today. It doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter what you look like. It doesn’t matter if you are blood or not, we are a family. Family to me is unconditional love for a stranger you are willing to get on a plane for. True unconditional love is how I would describe the Clark family.