Video Spotlight - Andrew Fink

LANGLEY, British Columbia - There was a time when Spartans goalie Andrew Fink was different.

While the Calgary born, Burnaby raised product may still have possessed the same lounging British bulldog like relaxation techniques he has mastered today, when Fink entered the Trinity Western woodwork in the fall of 2007, he was a different animal.

“I came arrogant and naïve about the world and about faith,” Fink said. “Man, I was full of myself coming out of high school. I had way too many people telling me I was this and that and I believed them.”

Following a redshirt year at Simon Fraser, Fink joined the Spartans and was immediately anointed as the starting goalkeeper on a team coming off a CIS silver medal-winning campaign. And in his first year with Trinity Western, he helped the Spartans to a Canada West first place finishing 11-2-1 record, a Canada West gold medal, a fifth place finish at the CIS national championship and, individually, was named a Canada West First-Team All-Star.

Life was grand.

That is until the following summer on a certain August night. After what became a well-documented off-field incident, Fink found himself grappling for perspective and on the wrong end of a one year suspension.

That’s when Fink turned things in a different direction. And since then, the Spartans goalkeeper of record in each game this year says he’s “changed 10-fold.”

“The turning point wasn’t so much that night but it was the two or three weeks that followed,” Fink said. “Having this unconditional support system of 30 brothers and three coaches, who I pretty much spat on, still standing right next to me and saying that they were here for me and they want the best for me was unbelievable.

“It was right around there when I realized that you don’t really know what you have until you’re about to lose it. I never lost it but I thought it was gone.”

Fink’s career at Trinity Western was on the rocks. He was talking to other coaches about transferring and, in his mind at least, returning to the Spartans seemed remote.

“I thought no one would want me because of what I had done,” Fink said. “I thought I didn’t even deserve to be here. But my final decision to stay was solely based on my belief that I owed those guys and those coaches and those administrators who unconditionally showed me so much grace and so much love. I had to come back and I had to right wrongs. I couldn’t leave this program with the legacy of that night or as a quitter.”

And he most definitely has not.

Over the last three years, Fink has become heavily involved in the Spartans off-field efforts, most notably work with the Langley-based Karen group, and has done his very best to give back to Trinity Western and the surrounding community.

This past summer, Fink went on his first overseas venture with the Spartans as he and his team travelled to Benin for a two-week missions trip. For Fink, it was another step in his efforts to, as he says, “sand down and repaint” his outlook on life and how he is perceived. But what he returned with was a whole lot more than a shiny coat of paint.

“The biggest thing I took away from that is that it just really shows you why we have happiness in our lives and, on the other hand, why we have so much unhappiness in our lives,” Fink said. “It really doesn’t come back to any of the material stuff.  It’s so cliché but it really shook me how much happier the people of Benin are with so much less.”

And it’s conversations like that which demonstrate how far Fink has come in his own personal voyage.

This past week, for the first time in his career, Fink was named the CIS male athlete of the week following back-to-back shutouts on the road against Alberta and, at the time, No. 7 ranked Saskatchewan.

Five years ago, those accolades would likely have been the main topic of the interview. This year, his on-field accomplishments and excellent play thus far this year somehow sat in the back seat of this week’s dialogue. This, despite there being plenty to discuss.

Through five games this year, Fink leads Canada West with a 0.60 goals against average, is third in the conference with an .842 save percentage and is tied for the league lead in shutouts with two.

Playing as healthy as he’s been in years, he’s been a vocal leader at the back who has helped guide a defensive front that has only allowed three goals in five games.

“He’s really rounded into a great team leader, a great communicator on the field and he has a good sense of perspective about him,” said Spartans coach Pat Rohla. “He’s a real Spartan and I’ve really enjoyed watching his development both as a player and as a young man.”

While Fink’s numbers and personal achievements are amongst the best in the conference, once again, his altered ego has him deflecting praise and, instead, heaping it on his goaltending teammates Andrew Kowan and Evan Lowther.

“On and off the field, I really couldn’t have asked for a better training partner [in Kowan] and someone to stand behind me and just make sure I’m at my best every game,” said Fink, who has partnered with Kowan since his first day at Trinity Western. “The award I won this week, he would have won if he was between the pipes. It even goes past him. Evan Lowther on any given practice is the best goalie at practice. They’re as much a part of my success as I am.”

Fink, who will graduate in December with a degree in finance, is playing his final season with the Spartans and possibly his last year of competitive soccer. He hopes to help out with the Spartans next year in some capacity, but it’s likely his soccer playing career is coming to an end.  And he’s just fine with that.

“I don’t think soccer is my future,” Fink said. “I will always play it, but it will be for fun. I won’t close the door but my goal right now come January is business.”

His goal is to be a financial advisor, helping people who have mismanaged their money or preventing them from doing so, and if there’s anyone who knows how to dig themselves out of a hole, it’s Fink.

While there is still plenty of work to do this year and returning to the CIS national championship is at the top of Fink’s to-do list, looking back on his career at Trinity Western, in five years, the Fink of 2007 is someone vastly different than the Fink of 2011.

“My five years here have been very humbling,” said Fink. “And I am forever in debt to this program.”

-TW-

Last Updated: 2011-09-30
Author: Mark Janzen