Klink's next goal: Soccer star plays on after loss of mother

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For Leo Klink, the soccer field is an escape.

A place to shine.

Where he never expected the darkest moment of his life.

It all happened on February 9th, when Kalani and Punahou are playing in the HHSAA soccer championship match.

Late in the second half, Klink ties the game to send it into overtime.

Minutes later, he hit the winning penalty kick.

"You can ask anyone, I've never made one PK in my high school career besides that one," Klink said.  "When I heard the final whistle, I just dropped down because I was so tired. The whistles were just like an angel's voice, just like screeching...finally, it's all over."

But that triumph was quickly overshadowed.

Early in the second half, the game briefly stopped to let an ambulance on the field and Klink was unaware his mother was in it lying unconscious.

Before fainting, she asked that her son not be told until after the game.

"He's a momma's boy in the best way, so I knew how devastated he would be and you could kind of tell that I soon as I told him the news that she was in the hospital," said Kalani High head soccer coach Michael Ching.  "He just broke down. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do."

The next three days were the most difficult in Leo's life.

"It was hard that she wanted me to go to school because I wanted to be next to her the whole time, but she wanted me to go to school and I have to respect that and do what she says because she's my mom," Klink said.

Hiroyo Klink passed away from a brain hemorrhage on February 12th.

Leo didn't find out until after school.

"I came in and he (the doctor) just told me what happened," Klink reflected.  "I just stayed in the room with her. I talked to her for a little bit and then said my final goodbyes."

In the weeks and months after, Leo found the best ways to keep his life in life were to remember his mother's words and find solace in his first love.

"I decided not to put life on hold because my mom wouldn't want me to do that," said the 18-year-old. "She'd want me to just live life and just continue on and she wouldn't want me to stop for anything and just keep going for whatever I'm trying to achieve."

He's achieved a great deal. Leo is attending UC-Irvine in the fall on a soccer scholarship. It's a dream he didn't think was possible, but one his mother always drove him to.

"She definitely pushed my boundaries into going, pushing myself to play at a division one level," Klink said.  "Being the soccer player I am today was because of her."

Ching has seen how much Leo has grown, despite the recent tragedy in his life.

"I think it's quite remarkable how well he's handled everything," Ching said. "I mean, losing your mom at 18, on the championship game...He probably played his best sports moment of his life and yet then, he loses his mom, the most important person of his life.  For some reason, he's able to bounce back."

As he plays on, Leo already knows his biggest fan will always be with him.

"She's the one who watched me play soccer by myself in the park," said Klink.  "Just her presence I guess and always having her in the house and always at the soccer games watching me and just her caring for me, that's what I miss most about her."

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