Fink looking forward to OKC match
Sam Fink only spent one season playing for Energy FC and lived in Oklahoma City less than a year.
But Saturday night's match at Taft Stadium between Energy FC and his new team Saint Louis FC — which is also his hometown team — feels like a homecoming.
“It's a special place that was hard to say goodbye to,” Fink said of OKC and its soccer team. “I can't say enough good things about it.”
If Fink's wife, Hannah, had not become pregnant, he may have stayed with Energy FC after last season. But she also is from St. Louis, and he chose to sign with Saint Louis FC in the offseason so both sets of grandparents could see their new grandchild every day.
“They were pretty certain we were going back to Oklahoma because we loved it that much,” Fink said.
The couple plan to see old friends this weekend, including one special friend, 14-year-old Addison Klehm, who will be at Saturday night's match with her family.
Addi is a member of Energy FC's Sidekicks program, which pairs the soccer players with special-needs children. Each Energy FC player attends several social events with their Sidekick throughout the year, and Fink became very close with Addi and her family.
Not only would they get together for the scheduled Sidekicks events, but Fink often would have dinner with the Klehm family. He attended Addi's after-school party.
Even though Fink is living and playing for Saint Louis FC now, the families still stay in contact. The Klehms sent gifts when Fink's daughter, Evelynn, was born three months ago.
Sam thinks his time with Addi, who has Down syndrome, will make him a better father.
When Sam started being Addi's Sidekick, he thought he would be teaching her life skills. Instead, it was the other way around.
“She just taught me how to enjoy every moment and find the most joy in all the little things,” he said. “She just smiles and makes everyone happy around her. I don't see why I can't do the same. She taught me way more than I taught her.”
Fink said his friendship with Addi will not end even though he is playing in another city.
“I think we will be friends forever, honestly” he said.
A scary injury in the playoffs
In Energy FC's first playoff win last season — a 1-0 upset over Reno 1868 on the road — Fink was celebrating the victory with teammates on the field when he was struck in the eye with a plastic bottle thrown by a Reno fan.
“It was a once in a lifetime throw for sure,” Fink said. “Had it hit me anywhere else I would have been just fine.”
Immediately after it happened, Fink couldn't see out of the eye. Doctors later told him that his blurred vision would eventually go away and the eye would heal, but the injury forced him to miss Energy FC's next playoff game.
He was medically cleared by doctors to played in Energy FC's loss in the Western Conference Finals, but said his vision didn't completely return to normal for more than a month.
Officials from Reno called Fink to apologize. The club's fan group, the Battle Born Brigade, wanted to make a financial donation in Fink's name to a charity of his choice to make amends.
Fink asked that the $1,500 donation be made in Addi Klehm's name to the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma.
SAINT LOUIS FC (2-1-2) VS. ENERGY FC (1-4)
When: 7 p.m., Saturday
Where: Taft Stadium
Weather: The forecast calls for rain, and Energy FC officials want to remind fans that no umbrellas are allowed in Taft Stadium.