She puts best foot for­ward

De­fender gor­den’s pass it on chal­lenge raises nearly $10,000

Chicago Sun-Times - - RED STARS BEAT - BY AN­NIE COSTA­BILE acosta­bile@sun­times.com | @an­niecosta­bile

When Red Stars de­fender Sarah Gor­den left for Utah and the NWSL Chal­lenge Cup, she knew she wasn’t go­ing merely to play soc­cer.

As a mem­ber of the United States’ first pro­fes­sional sports league to re­turn to play, Gor­den’s plat­form never would be more in­flu­en­tial, and she planned on us­ing ev­ery mo­ment to ad­vo­cate for po­lice re­form and to speak out against sys­temic racism.

In the three weeks Gor­den has been in Utah, her com­mit­ment to bring­ing about change has man­i­fested it­self in daily posts to her so­cial-me­dia plat­forms and in lead­ing con­ver­sa­tions among team­mates.

And Gor­den, a na­tive of Elk Grove Vil­lage, hasn’t stopped there. With ev­ery idea that has come to mind, her ef­forts have grown more tan­gi­ble.

‘‘The Red Stars have been on board for ev­ery idea I’ve thrown their way,’’ Gor­den said. ‘‘I thought [the Pass It On Chal­lenge] was go­ing to be some­thing in­ter­nal within our team, and it’s just blown up.’’

Gor­den’s vi­sion for the chal­lenge started with an idea to raise money for Get Yo Mind Right Chi, a lo­cal men­tal-health ini­tia­tive that is part of Healthy Hood Chicago. Healthy Hood is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion fo­cused on clos­ing the life-ex­pectancy gap that ex­ists be­tween Chicago’s af­flu­ent and un­der­priv­i­leged com­mu­ni­ties.

Af­ter hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with her boyfriend, Gor­den de­cided the best way to raise money was through a chal­lenge. Ini­tially, she as­sumed it would stay among the Red Stars. She spoke with her team­mates and fig­ured out who she could tag that would keep it go­ing.

Gor­den com­mit­ted to do­nat­ing $5 for ev­ery pass she com­pleted in the Red Stars’ fi­nal pre­lim­i­nary match of the Chal­lenge Cup and tagged Julie Ertz, Casey Short, Red Stars sup­port group Chicago Lo­cal 134 and Fire for­ward CJ Sapong.

Within min­utes of tweet­ing out the chal­lenge, count­less mem­bers of the NWSL and be­yond were on board.

‘‘I think a lot of peo­ple do want to help,’’ Gor­den said. ‘‘And they want to use this sport to make a dif­fer­ence. They just need to be told how and when things like this hap­pen.’’

Ertz com­mit­ted to a do­na­tion for ev­ery tackle she had Sun­day against the Utah Roy­als, Kealia Watt com­mit­ted to do­nat­ing $100 for ev­ery time Red Stars coach Rory Dames yelled dur­ing the game and Alyssa Nae­her com­mit­ted to giv­ing $50 for ev­ery save she made.

Sapong pledged $50 for ev­ery touch he had in the Fire’s first match of the MLS Is Back tour­na­ment and an­nounced a do­na­tion of $3,200 af­ter get­ting 64 touches Tues­day.

In to­tal, Gor­den’s chal­lenge raised $15,707 for Get Yo Mind Right Chi and Healthy Hood. The Red Stars con­trib­uted $6,164, and sup­port­ers out­side the or­ga­ni­za­tion raised $9,543. The num­ber was tracked based on do­na­tions made on so­cial me­dia that tagged Gor­den or used the hash­tag #PassItOnCR­S, so it’s pos­si­ble the im­pact was even greater.

‘‘I don’t think it’s been a se­cret to any­one the work our team has done with the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment,’’ Dames said. ‘‘We’ve been hav­ing meet­ings within our team. We have a lead­er­ship group, and just in­ter­nally within our team, we dis­cussed do­ing [the chal­lenge]. Sarah led the way. The way that it spread is big­ger than any of us could have hoped.’’

On Satur­day, the Red Stars will face OL Reign in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Chal­lenge Cup. The win­ner will play the Washington Spirit or Sky Blue in the semi­fi­nals.

OL Reign boasts a tal­ented front line, with Jodie Tay­lor flanked by Sofia Huerta and Bethany Bal­cer. A key for the Red Stars will be to con­tain those three while work­ing to find their own chances. ✶

GETTY IM­AGES

Red Stars de­fender Sarah Gor­den (shown in the NWSL Chal­lenge Cup) is us­ing her plat­form to do good.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.