El Cerrito High alum Tyson Quink will honored at halftime tonight, Friday, when the Gauchos football squad meets Analy High of Sebastopol in the semi-final playoffs for the North Coast Section (NCS) championship.
The 2004 grad stood out in several ways when he was student at school.
For one, Quink was 6-foot 3-inches tall. As a center on the football team, he was named to the All-Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League (ACCAL) first-team offense in his senior year. The same year, he placed second in shot-put in the ACCAL track and field championship, after placing first the year before.
After he graduated, he won admission to West Point, the highly selective U.S. Military Academy, where he also played football as an offensive lineman.
After West Point, he gained national attention as a victim of the tragedies of war. As an Army officer and platoon leader in Afghanistan, he lost both legs below the knee when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in June last year.
A New York Times story in September last year began with First Lt. Quink addressing the Army football team and describing the blast.
"I had a squad leader holding my head," he said. "Everyone was tourniquetting my legs, getting me together. They were getting me a bird and getting me out of there. Those guys, I'll never forget, I see their faces all the time. It's important what they did. They would have done it because it was their jobs, but they did it because they didn't want to lose someone they were tight with, close to."
His story was featured also in a National Public Radio (NPR) broadcast and online story the previous month about his rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. That story also highlighted the role of his wife, First Lt. Tera Quink, who lived with him at the hospital and helped him through his therapy.
Quink will attend tonight's game against Analy, and El Cerrito High's athletic director, George Austin, who was the head football coach when Quink was a Gaucho, is planning the halftime celebration to honor him.
"I plan to be joined by Tyson and other members of his 2003 Team and thank him for his service and sacrifice to his country," Austin said. "I’m also hoping that he will give some inspirational words to our team in their quest to beat Analy and advance to the NCS Championship game."
Both top-seeded El Cerrito and fifth-seeded Analy are unbeaten this year. The game starts at 7 p.m. at DeAnza High School in Richmond.