OS2 Tiffany Clark joined the military intending to dedicate 20 years of service to her country. She had a tumultuous upbringing and was unhoused at the time of her enlistment. The Navy offered her the security she craved, and she thrived.

Around 2016, she tore her ACL, made a full recovery, and returned to duty. In 2021, her command played a game of COVID-safe no-touch ultimate frisbee for PT, though she was concerned about reinjuring her knee again. About 15 minutes before the end of the game, Clark felt something pop in her leg. She tore her ACL completely through and needed intensive surgery.

As a single parent, Clark was granted permission to travel home to Texas for the surgery to have support for herself and her young son. During her recovery, she had to re-learn to walk. This all sat heavily on her mind and heart.

“I used to run 5Ks. I gave up doing things I loved, like going to the gym, because I was scared that I would reinjury myself,” she said. “What was I going to do? All my progress was being undone. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to run and play with my son again.”

Clark’s recovery journey was complicated with setbacks and uncertainty that challenged her mental health. One of her medical providers referred her to Navy Wounded Warrior to help navigate the twists and turns of military medical care. Her care team helped her find mental-health counseling, as well as childcare for her son and support services for her caregiver. When it was apparent she would transition out of active duty, Navy Wounded Warrior connected her with nonprofit resources to establish housing and gainful employment after separation.

She took advantage of so many aspects of Navy Wounded Warrior’s services that her care team encouraged her to also try adaptive sports, but she was hesitant. “I filled out the application forms in 2023, but I didn’t submit them because I got in my head about it.”

Around that time, she heard OS1 Travis Wyatt (ret.) speak at a Navy Wounded Warrior event at Naval Medical Center San Diego about his transformative experiences with adaptive sports. Wyatt attended Warrior Games in 2022 and Warrior Games Challenge in 2023. Clark decided to give it a go. She attended her first introductory sports camp in January 2024 and Team Trials in February 2024.

“The first time I ran at the January camp, I cried. After surgery, my thigh atrophied. I was on crutches for almost a year. I didn’t think I’d ever run again.”

By February, she signed up for every sports trial she was medically cleared to attend. “Whenever they asked me to try something, I said, ‘Sure!’ It allowed me to get out of my head about it. You never know if you’ll like something until you try it.”