By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
Nothing defines a community more than how it comes together when adversity strikes.
The Fort Thomas community has been dealing with that since two Mondays ago. Clay Frink, a junior soccer player at Highlands High School, was hit by a sport utility vehicle at the intersection of Highland and South Fort Thomas Avenues around 1:15 p.m., said Lieutenant Rich Whitford of the Forth Thomas Police Department to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The team hoped to see Frinks be a key contributor to a soccer team looking to bounce back from not making the regional tournament for the first time since 2007. Frinks’ dad Neal is a volunteer assistant with the team this fall.
Teammate Jovid Llerena is a close friend with Frink. Llerena is a defenseman for the Bluebirds.
“We’re very supportive of our teammate. It is nice to see the team support our coach (Frink),” Llerena said. “We miss him on the field, but we know he’ll be here with us soon. We’ll support him throughout the way. It comforts the family to know we’re behind him.”
Neither head coach Matthew Winkler nor his teammates can comment on his status because of privacy laws. But there is a web site that gives updates on Frinks’ status. It is here.
The web site also tells people how they can help. Highland United Methodist Church held a prayer session for Frink on Wednesday night.
The Bluebirds have had injuries before. But this one happens to be severe. Police stated Frink was taken to the Intensive Care Unit of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to be treated for head injuries. But the web site asks that no one visit him at this point.
“The team is coming together nicely,” Winkler said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had to go through the situation. It is definitely tough for the team, but we value the relationship that we have with the family. When anyone is injured, you rally behind that support. It is nice to see the community, school and churches come together as one to work together and help everyone through this time.”
This year’s Highlands soccer team has six seniors led by forward Ethan Schmits. Teams normally do good things after an event like this. That will be seen soon with the start of the season Tuesday.
“Our team is a lot closer with the whole Clay situation because we realize Clay is one of our brothers,” Schmits said. “We really do miss him on the field and off the field.”
Highlands opens the season tomorrow.