Mother of Kalani soccer star dies

By Paul Drewes
Published On: Feb 12 2013 10:50:00 PM HST

Sacrifice and commitment are two qualities that came out during and after a life-changing championship contest in Hawaii.

HONOLULU -

The mother of a high school soccer star, stricken with a stroke during the state championship game, has died.

After just winning the state title, the Kalani soccer team rallied around a teammate during his most difficult time.

Saturday February 9th will be a day Leo Klink will never forget. His Kalani team trailed Punahou two time during the championship game, and two times his team rallied around him. The soccer star was able to hit key shots and evened the score.

Then, during the second half, the game was stopped as Klink's mother, Hiroyo, had what was believed to be a stroke and went to the hospital. As she left, she did not want to distract Leo during the most important game of his life. "The athletic director asked 'Should we tell Leo' and she said 'No, I don't want to tell him' and then Paul Klink said "Definitely don't tell him'," stated Kalani coach Michael Ching.

As Hiroyo Klink was taken away by ambulance, the Falcon's coach made the hardest call of the game. He did not tell his star player or the team about the emergency.

"Since we're so close, it would devastate our soccer family. We didn't know Hiroyo's condition, and that is why I chose not to tell him," said Ching.

The game went into overtime. There Klink came through in the clutch again. He scored the winning goal and gave his team something to smile about, a championship title.

Immediately after the victory, he learned of the emergency and Klink rushed to his mother's side. His teammates then rallied around him again. They went to the hospital instead of going out to celebrate their victory.

"We're family. We want to be next to him and support him," said Kalani forward Kazuto Moribe.

Support, just like the support Hiroyo gave Leo over the years, as he developed his soccer skills. "She loved Leo playing soccer. She didn't miss a game. She'd always pick him up from practice. Sometimes she would stay all practice just to watch him play," said Ching.
"His mom was such a great person. I loved his mom, l love his dad and I love Leo. So I knew I had to be here for him," said Iolani midfielder Micah Cabagbag.

At the hospital Hiroyo first heard the good news. "I was told she did know we won the game," said Ching.

Then came the bad news. Her condition worsened from her brain hemorrhage and she went into a coma for two days.

Then Tuesday, just after noon, she died.

Through it all, friends and teammates have been there for Leo and his family.  They've even be able to return the favor for the teenager, giving him a much needed break from all his personal heartbreak and they have also given him a reason to smile again.

"When he is with these boys, he's smiling and laughing and remembering the kicks and goals and the trips on the field. It all keeps his mind away from it, for a little bit," said Ching.

Leo's championship effort should help him get into a college, but soccer scholarships may not be enough. Going to college was something Hiroyo pushed very hard for, but Leo's father Paul, who is permanently disabled, said now those plans are up in the air.

A trust fund is being set up to help Leo achieve another of his dreams, going to college.  Donations can be made at any Bank of Hawaii to the Leo Klink Fund.

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