Hometown Heroes


Allie Ryan, Editor

It’s no secret that St. Louis has a rich soccer history. The earliest record of organized soccer in St. Louis dates back to 1881. Over the years, St.Louis has had 10 professional teams in different leagues with the current Saint Louis Football Club, which is a part of the United Soccer League (USL). STL FC is coached by St. Louis native Dale Schilly. The team has many talented players, 2 of which are locals—Charles Renken and Sam Fink, both from Edwardsville, IL.

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Charles Renken and Sam Fink have made quite the impact for STL FC and both young men have bright soccer careers ahead of them.”

— Allie Ryan

Charles Renken was born in the suburbs of Lusaka, Zambia and moved to the United States in 2003. He was adopted by the Renken family in Edwardsville in 2005. He played for St. Louis Scott Gallagher and was coached by Dale Schilly. Renken played for the U14 U.S. National Team at age 11 and the U15 U.S. National Team at age 12. By the age of 14, Renken was hyped by the soccer media as “U.S. soccer’s next rising star.” In 2007, at the age of 13, Charles was invited to the U17 U.S. Soccer Academy in Florida. He was also called to the U20 camp and dominated the competition.

A lot of clubs in the English Premiere League from Manchester United to Liverpool were interested in young Charles. Renken has played with many clubs throughout the world, but decided to stay close to home, so he signed with STL FC in early 2015. I had the privilege of interviewing Renken. “It feels great to be back home playing in front of my family and my friends,” he said. “Being so close to my family and living at home is a dope feeling.”  Renken has high expectations for himself. “In five years, I see myself playing for a good team over in Europe or even playing for the United States National Team.”

Another major player for STL FC is another Edwardsville native, Sam Fink. He grew up playing club soccer for SLSG Metro Academy. Fink scored 43 goals and had 11 assists during his four years at Edwardsville High School. He helped lead the Tigers to the State Final Four three years in a row, including a second-place finish in 2008. After his outstanding career in his hometown, Fink continued his soccer career at Wake Forest University in Salem, North Carolina. Fink signed with STL FC shortly after his college graduation in 2014.

Charles Renken and Sam Fink have made quite the impact for STL FC and both young men have bright soccer careers ahead of them.

Check out this video clip of Charles Renken crossing the ball into Sam Fink, who scores the winning goal against the Harrisburg City Islanders! https://youtu.be/Jb6jc5KXr84?t=1m4s