Paul Valencia: Clarkson story catches the eye of TV cameras

Paul Valencia: High School Sports

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter



A television crew took over the Camas High School weight room for a couple of hours Friday.

Drew Clarkson walked in, noticed the bright lights in the corner, and hesitated.

Clarkson knew the crew was there for him.

Only, on this day, the crew really wasn’t there for him. Eventually, yes, the men in the corner would be filming him, interviewing him, for a television special regarding his recent battle with testicular cancer.

Not this day, though. Other people would be the interview subjects.

“Oh good,” Clarkson said.

Friday, Clarkson’s focus was on school and then football.

One of the best offensive linemen in the state, Clarkson was preparing to play his first game of the season. After months of battling cancer, of scheduling his treatment so that he would return for his senior season with the Papermakers, a hamstring injury delayed his debut.

Another interview session could wait.

“I don’t like attention. I don’t really like it at all,” Clarkson would say a couple days later.

He understands it is necessary, though.

In August, The Columbian detailed Clarkson’s ordeal. Clarkson might not want the spotlight on him, but he does want others to know of his experience.

“It’s good to get my story out there because it’s creating awareness,” Clarkson said, adding he wants to make sure other teenagers and young men are not afraid to speak up if something feels wrong down there.

Matt McManus of Intersport, a production company, said his people read The Columbian’s story and wanted to make Clarkson part of the annual “Courage in Sports” television show that airs on CBS every November.

(McManus said there is a possibility that Clarkson’s feature will not make deadline for “Courage in Sports.” But it could run in another program. He would keep me posted.)

Clarkson probably did not even notice the TV crew following his every move in Friday’s win over Lakes.

“It’s been a while since I played football,” Clarkson said. “Nice getting back to doing what I love.”

Coaches wanted to ease Clarkson back into the lineup. He did not start but played in the second offensive series. Clarkson said he expects to get his first start Friday when Camas opens Class 4A Greater St. Helens League play against Skyview.

As far as an update on Clarkson’s cancer: No news is great news. He said he did not have an update. Still no signs of the cancer returning.

He does not mind telling his story, for the right reasons, but for the most part, he is just thinking one thing right now:

“Football. Football. Football.”

• • •

Camas coach Jon Eagle was one of those being interviewed by the crew Friday in the weight room. He was his usual self, spoke eloquently of Clarkson, and he was in complete command of the room. The guy’s a pro on camera.

The other dude in front of the camera was yours truly. (Don’t ask me why they wanted my input, but they did.) I swear to you I’m pretty good on live broadcasts. I am on the air every week for Seattle radio. But when something is taped, I choke.

McManus said I did fine, but he was just being nice. I bumbled and stumbled over a bunch of words. My guess is my “brilliant insight” will hit the cutting-room floor.

As my wife says, I have a face for radio and a voice for print.

• • •

Another journalist making our news in a fun way: A sports writer from up north took time to write a comment on our Camas game story against Lakes.

“Dear Camas,” he comment read. “Please play Bellevue and beat them. Signed, the rest of the state.”

Well, that won’t happen this year, of course. Different classifications. Still, a funny line.