Taft HS soccer player honored for leadership on, off the field

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When her father nearly died earlier this year, senior Nicole Gorder had to step up for her family, both on and off the field. (WLS)

Chicago Proud
When her father nearly died earlier this year, a Chicago high school student-athlete had to step up for her family, both on and off the field.

On Friday, senior Nicole Gorder was surprised with an unexpected honor. The Taft High School girls' soccer team filed in, barely able to contain their own excitement.

Gorder was called to the front of the room and presented with special Chicago Cubs tickets for making a difference on and off the field. Wiping away tears, Gorder was overwhelmed by the recognition.

"I had no idea this was happening. Going through my head, I was shocked, kind of confused at first. And then I was like "I don't understand" and then I started crying," she said.

Gorder helped collect and deliver new books and bikes to low-income Chicago elementary schools. She mentors children and has helped cancer patients at Lutheran General Hospital.

"I love to do it because it feels so different being on the other side. Because it makes me think more about how much I impact these kids and I know how they feel now. It just make me want to do so much more now. It's a great feeling," Gorder said.

And after her father, Dean Gorder, nearly died from liver disease, she was the one who became a second mother to her sisters.

"She's the glue that keeps the family together. If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't be here. That's it. I'm proud of my daughter," her father said.

She's a born leader - on and off the field.

"She took a leadership role on the field immediately and the second year she was a captain. And she leads the team. She leads the team every step of the way," said Christine Medunycia, a Taft High School teacher.

"You're with a team, you're with a family and together you guys help impact other people and to build that connection and kind of do all of that stuff together is kind of what you go for," Nicole Gorder said.

Gorder was honored by the group Buddy's Helpers, a non-profit that works to unite Chicago area high school student athletes for community service campaigns.
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