ROAN MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (WJHL) – Cloudland senior Cayden Clark’s first love was baseball.

“I started out playing baseball at about fourth grade and that kind of got my interest in sports hyped up,” he said.

He learned everything he knows about the sport from his dad, who pitched for Tusculum back in his college days.

“He’s taught me everything I know in baseball,” Clark said. “He used to draw a little ‘X’ on this wall we have at our house and I’d throw a tennis ball at it, catch it with a glove and field it.”

“He’s just been a great influence in my life, especially in sports and other aspects of it.”

Clark learned basketball from his older brother, who attended school in Avery County, North Carolina and played for Appalachian State.

“We always used to go to his games and stuff growing up,” Clark said. “Anytime he’d be home, he would just help me with my shot. He’d help me with my game.”

“I wanted to be like him,” he continued. “I’ve always tried really hard at it.”

Clark has played all four years for the Highlanders and loves competing for a program with a championship history.

“It’s awesome, I love it a lot,” he said. “Just behind you – you have pictures from teams in the past. Just seeing those and seeing the plaques right here it really makes you realize what we’ve got to live up to.”

Clark even gave football a try for the first time as a junior in high school, and played again as a senior this past fall.

“I think if I had played it my whole life it probably would have been my favorite sport,” he said. “I just love the physicality of it – I love the Friday night lights. When people talk about that, I never really understood it until I was underneath the Friday night lights.”

The senior has been successful in all three sports throughout his team at Cloudland because of how he carries himself in competition.

“I’m a competitive person, so I really love competition and I love the feeling of winning,” he said.

But, it’s not the only reason he’s been successful. His success also comes from the lessons each games has taught him.

“When you get knocked down, get back up,” he said. “There’s gonna be trials you’ve got to overcome and face them.”

Some of those trials came off the field and court when Clark was given the opportunity to enroll in the Carter County Middle College Program at Northeast State.

“It was kind of rough the first month or so trying to figure out how to balance everything,” he admitted.

But Clark did what he always does – compete and give his all. Now, he’s exceling, not only as an athlete, but a college-level academic, as well.

“I just really enjoyed it – a lot of the college learning and the college experience of knowing how to manage your time,” he said. “Eventually I figured it out and kind of just go with the flow now.”

Clark plans to attend ETSU and study biomedical engineering in the fall.