High School Sports

‘Going to miss him dearly’: Heathwood Hall mourns tragic loss of multi-sport athlete

Watch: Jake Clarkson’s game-winning goal against Porter-Gaud

Heathwood Hall's Jake Clarkson scores the game-winning goal against Porter-Gaud on May 6, 2019.
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Heathwood Hall's Jake Clarkson scores the game-winning goal against Porter-Gaud on May 6, 2019.

Heathwood Hall lost one of its top and most fun-loving soccer players this weekend.

Junior Jake Clarkson died following injuries suffered Saturday in an ATV accident, Heathwood boys soccer coach Andrew Richardson told The State on Sunday. Clarkson was 16 years old.

Details of the accident are unclear at this point, Richardson said.

“One of the more special kids I have ever coached, and we were very close,” Richardson said. “He was one of the first kids who texted me when my grandfather died. He was just that kind of kid. I am going to miss him dearly.”

Richardson said Clarkson was one of his favorite players to coach and that he had a fun, “goofy personality and never really had a bad day.” The Heathwood coach had known Clarkson since he was a sixth-grader and also coached his older brother.

Richardson said that even when he would have to yell at Clarkson, it was hard to stay mad at him.

As an eighth-grader, Clarkson was a ball boy on the Highlanders’ 2016 team that made it to the SCISA 3A championship game. The team kind of adopted him as one of their own during that season.

Clarkson played junior varsity to start his eighth-grade season before moving up to varsity during the middle of the year.

Clarkson scored three goals this past season and had one of the biggest moments of the year for the Highlanders. He scored the game-winning goal for Heathwood in the 2-1 double-overtime win over Porter-Gaud in the SCISA 3A playoffs.

“I looked up and made eye contact and I could see Jake go get a head on it. I could see him beat his guy,” Richardson said. “Then after the match, his mom came up to us and he told her he knew he was going to score. You could say, ‘Jake, I need this done,’ and he would find a way to get it done.”

Richardson said Clarkson had a good chance to play soccer in college and that no one will wear Clarkson’s No. 8 as long as he is the coach at Heathwood.

In addition to soccer, Clarkson also was a wrestler and a member of the team’s sporting clays team. Clarkson finished third in the 120-pound weight division at last year’s SCISA wrestling state championships. SCMat ranked Clarkson as the fifth-ranked wrestler in SCISA 3A’s 120-pound class.

Clarkson also was an avid hunter and fisherman, and the school is allowing kids to wear camouflage on Monday in honor of him. A chapel service also is planned for the students Monday.

Clarkson is the second Midlands student-athlete to die in an ATV accident this year. Fairfield Central’s CJ Simmons died in May.

A funeral service for Clarkson will be 11 a.m. Thursday at North Trenholm Baptist Church. Visitation is 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at Shives Funeral Home’s Trenholm Road Chapel in Columbia.

“It is with truly saddened hearts that we share the tragic passing of Jake Clarkson, our junior #8,” the Heathwood soccer team announced via Twitter. “An amazing young man, thoughtful, caring, with an infectious personality. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Clarkson family — We Love You, Jake.”

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