Southwest Oklahoma teen achieves college softball dream despite lifetime of scoliosis

Big Pasture

LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - A local girl who once had metal rods put in her back because of scoliosis is not letting that stop her from following her dreams of playing college softball.

Three years ago, Harli Clem had two rods and 17 screws put in her back because of scoliosis. She did not let that stop her, as she continued to grind until reaching her goal of playing college softball, inspiring an entire community along the way.

The entire Big Pasture student body was on hand, chanting Clem's name as she signed her letter of intent to Southwestern Christian University in Bethany.

"Ever since I started playing since I was five. Just a lifelong dream just going somewhere and representing the home town I came from,” Clem said.

Clem said the desire has always been there but getting to this point was not easy. "Just wearing the braces, that was tough. I couldn’t sit in desks, you just kind of sit straight up and for sports you have to take it off. It was such a pain to lug that thing around,” Clem said.

Clem had been dealing with the scoliosis her entire life, but three years ago that all changed.

"It was a big change, I couldn’t slouch, I was more straight up. I had to learn how to walk again and how to adapt to my new back pretty much. It was painful after the surgery, but I slowly got better and better,” Clem said.

After learning how to live again, Clem had to also learn how to play softball again.

"For grounders, I had to learn how to bend over again, I don’t have any side to side movement, I’m just straight up and down. Then pitching, that was like learning a language. That was just hard,” Clem said.

Despite the difficulties, Clem said she never doubted she’d reach her goal.

"I think I’ve always believed, but I’m not 100 percent confident all the time, I try to be, but I just knew because my family and pitching coach, everyone has been so supportive. I just knew I was going to get there,” Clem said.

As she continued to work, her friends, family and coaches were there every step of the way.

"I’m super happy that she is able to fulfill her dream and go on and play at a collegiate level, she gets to do that today and I’m super proud of her,” said Big Pasture athletic director and coach Travis Smith.

Clem said the support means the world to her and she hopes her story will inspire others in the Big Pasture community.

"Trust the process. It may seem foreign to you at first but just trust it will work out. You want to be a firefighter, be a firefighter. You want to be president, be president. You can do anything you want to do,” Clem said.

Clem’s college coaches were also on hand for her signing and said they are absolutely thrilled to be signing her.

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