BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Playing high school football takes a lot of dedication. It has become a year-long process. There's weight training, summer workouts, spring training and daily practice once the season gets underway.
Consider the blazing heat the players must endure and run under those hot, steamy conditions in full pads. It's not easy.
One young man at Bay High has become an inspirational leader. He's not the most vocal player on the field. Instead, he leads by example.
Let's meet Clarence Kennedy.
Bay High Head Coach Jeff Hopgood said a young man who never played football before came to him in the spring and told him that he wanted to compete and become a member of the Bay High Tigers. At first, he thought the young man should consider becoming a manager.
"I said, 'Who am I to deny that man an opportunity to participate in high school athletics,'" said Hopgood. "So, he's been out here ever since."
His name is Clarence Kennedy, number three on the Bay High roster. Clarence has Down Syndrome, but that hasn't stopped him from achieving his goal. Clarence said he just wants to put on the pads and have fun.
Tiger's senior defensive end Chase Barbay said it best when talking about the impact Clarence has made on the Bay High football team.
"He gives us a lot of inspiration. He puts a smile on our face and keeps us going, really," said Barbay.
Clarence isn't going to make all the catches and even has difficulty walking. When he drops a pass, his Bay High teammates give him encouragement, and that leads to success.
"I can tell you from what I've seen thus far, the student body, the athletes, my football team for the most part and my coaching staff, I think we all probably learn more from Clarence than he would learn from any of us. He's part of the Bay High Tigers," said Hopgood.