Gig Harbor Now is posting profiles of each of the 25 Students of Distinction being honored by the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation. The students will be honored during a banquet from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Ocean5, 5268 Point Fosdick Dr.
Student: Shelby Stordahl
School: Gig Harbor High School
Category: Athletic Achievement
Shelby Stordahl has lettered in soccer all four years and, as a freshman, was on the GHHS team that won the state championship for the first time in school history. She was a WIAA Outstanding Scholar-Athlete in 2018-19 and made second team All-SPSL – all while maintaining a 3.9 GPA. She has also been a National Honor Society member since her sophomore year.
Being part of the state championship team was her favorite high school experience.
“Being part of school history and being with a group of girls who demonstrated great leadership and teamwork was inspiring. I attribute much of my tenacity and work ethic to that team,” she said.
But her success as an athlete was not without challenges. Surgery to repair a torn meniscus kept her off the field for seven months in 2020.
Then in 2021 she separated her left shoulder, requiring another surgery and another seven-month recovery. Just as she was getting back she broke her collar bone.
Being sidelined for so long took a big toll on her college plans, she said. But she didn’t give up.
“Soccer has taught me that I can overcome any obstacle put in front of me, even when I am unsure where the road leads. Soccer has given me confidence and the character that I will carry with me wherever life takes me.”
This fall, she’s headed to the University of Montana to continue her academic and athletic adventures.
Isolation from her friends and teammates during COVID was also tough. She was able to keep on top of her school work, but not having social contact was hard. Her older brother was a good example of how to work through it.
“He missed his prom and all the other important social activities because of COVID. But he just kept going and always put his head down and worked through things. He was such an inspiration,” she said.
In some ways, the pandemic was kind of a gift. “I think everything happens for a reason, and COVID made me so grateful for what I have now.”
The best thing about GHHS was the sense of unity among the students, especially at sports events.
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“Although Gig Harbor is home to many different types of people, all the students were able to unite for the common goal of cheering on the Tides,” she said. “Our Tide Pride makes me proud to be a Tide.”
Rebecca Wenrich, Teacher Academy instructor at Henderson Bay High School had this to say about Shelby: “What impresses me about Shelby is her ability to take the analytical skills she has learned and apply that to her work with research. But what stands out most is her character, her quiet humility and kindness. While she has been recognized for her athletic talents, Shelby doesn’t use the accolades to get away from responsibility. She uses it to embrace her responsibility to herself, to her sport, to her teammates, to her community.”
Shelby will major in early childhood education and become a kindergarten or first-grade teacher. “I just know that I love working with kids, and I want to be a teacher,” she said.
Parents: Allison Landes-Stordahl and Eric Stordahl
Activities/Achievements: National Honor Society; 2018-19 WIAA Outstanding Scholar Athlete; Varsity Soccer – four years; SPSL All-league second team
Favorite teacher: Rebecca Wenrich — Teacher Academy. “She has embraced our class from day one and opened my eyes to what a teacher can do for a student. She fills her room with love and positivity every day and always goes the extra mile to make sure you have a good day and have the resources necessary to perform. She has shown me a new way of learning and embodies what I want to be as a teacher.”
Advice to younger students: “Roosevelt once challenged us to be the ‘man in the arena’ rather than the critic watching from above. Put in the hard work. Whether that is in your sport or in the classroom, always give it 100%.”
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