Passion, Pain, and Perseverance on the Pitch

A dramatic injury brings a team together in new ways.


Peter Zejmis

Center midfielder Henry Sellinger holds a card from his teammates.

In the blink of an eye, Senior Henry Sellinger crashes into the opposing St. Mary’s midfielder. After a terrifying 30 minutes, Henry is rushed to the hospital. His leg bone is completely shattered. Out for the season. 

“I looked at it and I did see the bend, but I literally couldn’t look at it,” said Henry. “I looked away for a super long time, until the ambulance people came.”

The first game of the season for boys varsity soccer was against St. Mary’s Saints. The boys traveled an hour on the yellow school bus to fight their hearts out on the pitch. St. Mary’s has always been one of Friends School’s biggest rivals. 

This year was no exception. Both sides of the field were fully exerting themselves. After being down 1-0, the Quakers were desperate. With one minute on the clock, they were ready to try anything for a last chance to strike. The injury was terrifying. No one on the pitch really knew how bad it could be – least of all Henry.

“First of all, there was a lot of adrenaline rushing through me, and it was just a super intense last few minutes of the game. I think it happened with two minutes left, so I was going like 200%, you know, adrenaline going 200%. It happened, the slide tackle happened. I was in shock,” Henry remembers. “I literally tried to stand back up, and my leg folded.”

Senior and team captain Leo Scharff can’t forget that moment. 

“I saw Henry go in on a really hard tackle, but I didn’t realize that it was bad like that. So I went over and I thought he maybe dislocated his ankle or something, or it was a painful type of knot injury,” recalls Leo. “When I saw the way his leg was, it was pretty disturbing to look at” 

Boys’ varsity soccer is a close-knit team. Many members have grown up playing soccer together. Now, at the end of high school, the team is very senior-led. It’s a group of good friends with a fiery passion for a single goal of winning.

To Henry, the team means “family,” he says. “It was like a safe haven. When I was on the soccer field, that is all I had to think about”

After two rough weeks of being in the hospital, then stuck in bed at home, Henry is now fully back in school, but still missing on the field. And badly missed by his teammates.

“I know he was really excited for the season, so just knowing that he’s missing out on that – it hurts me a little bit too,” says Leo. 

It’s a sad thing to miss your senior season. Henry lost his in the very first game. Leo says the team is sad too, but they look at Henry’s courage on the field as inspiration. 

Henry is known to be a tough player. He has a reputation for putting his body on the line and doing whatever it takes to gain possession of the ball. Being a center midfielder, he is subject to tons of punts from the keeper, and out of control balls. 

In the wake of Henry’s injury, “I think there are positives and negatives” for the rest of the team, says Leo. “We definitely are able to feed off the injury. We keep on talking about how Henry put his body on the line. 

“It is one of the big things Coach Tyler has been talking about – how we all need to come with that same energy,” Leo continues. “In a way, although what happened really sucks, he is sort of a model for us – like how he came with 100 percent energy all the time”

Senior Garrett Taylor says the team isn’t the same without Henry – both in spirit, and on the field.

“You know, the way he passes is unlike anything anyone can do on the bench really,” says Garrett. “So the subs have to go in for Henry. And they can’t bring the level of offensive talent that Henry can.”

Senior grade dean and history teacher Josh Carlin, an ardent Quakes soccer fan, says that the whole community feels for Henry and the team.

“During my time at Friends, the one thing I have found is the boys’ varsity soccer team is always a very close group,” says Mr. Carlin. “This team is very senior-led, senior heavy, and I think it made a really big impact on the team and on the community.”