By Michael Pankow
Sheldon Gorski (’89 AHS) once had a knack for scoring goals. Now, as a grammar-school teacher, the former UIC and minor-league hockey star is looking to assist young people in achieving theirs.
Gorski, a UIC kinesiology major, opted to become a physical education teacher when he and his wife, Joan (Isabelli) Gorski (’90 LAS), a former softball player with the UIC Flames (1986-90), returned to the Chicago area at the end of his career in 2000.
Gorski works at two Catholic schools on Chicago’s Southwest Side — four days per week at St. Bede the Venerable and another day at Our Lady of the Snows.
After a decade-long pro career, it was time to start giving back, he said.
As a hockey player, Gorski scored 376 goals for seven professional franchises. Although he never advanced to the National Hockey League, his success in the minors earned him induction into the East Coast Hockey League Hall of Fame.
The Grenfell, Saskatchewan, native’s career sometimes led him to less-than-stellar hockey hotbeds, including Indianapolis, Miami and San Antonio. He also spent seven years in Louisville, Ky., where he played for two franchises.
“[Hockey was] what I wanted to do, and I enjoyed it,” said Gorski, who once attended training camp with the NHL Whalers, a Hartford, Conn.-based franchise that since has relocated to Raleigh, N.C. “I had to compete. It comes down to working with fellow teammates in an attempt to win a championship. That’s the goal for everybody.”
While attending UIC, Gorski was the Flames’ all-time leading goal scorer, playing a pivotal role in the best of the team’s Division I seasons. As a senior, he scored 38 of his 86 career collegiate goals, the same year the Flames qualified for the Final Four of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs under Head Coach Val Belmonte (’73 LAS). In 2000, Gorski was inducted into the UIC Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I just had a knack for where the net was,” he said. “I had a pretty decent shot, but also played with unselfish teammates willing to give me the puck.”
Gorski remains immersed in the sport, coaching young players at camps and clinics throughout North America, including the Canadian Professional Hockey Schools. He recently traveled to a camp at Bemidji State University, Bemidji, Minn., and participated in similar programs in Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and North Dakota.
Hockey, it turns out, is in the Gorski family’s genes. His son Dylan, a sophomore at Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, plays club hockey, and his father assists the team.
“I enjoy doing it and hanging out with the kids,” Gorski said. “When we do the breakaway drills, I feel like I can score again.”
– Reprinted with permission from UIC Alumni.